Tourism Australia Predicts Top Global Travel Trends for 2021

Travel will no doubt look a little different in 2021 and beyond. The events of 2020 have changed the landscape of travel—from how tourism businesses operate to what travelers prioritize when planning a trip. To that end, Tourism Australia’s managing director, Phillipa Harrison, has revealed Australia’s top forecasted global travel trends for 2021.

Here’s what we could expect, according to Harrison:

Trend 1: Naturally wide-open and remote destinations deemed safer 

With people craving wide-open spaces, fresh air and nature more than ever, Australia’s nature will be more desirable in 2021. Tourism Australia’s most recent consumer research, called the Consumer Demand Project, demonstrates that destinations with wide-open spaces feel safer for travelers—and, after spending more time at home last year than ever before, people are developing a new appreciation for being out in nature.  

Trend 2: Safety is key

In the eyes of international travelers, Australia’s association with safety and security has risen from 43 percent to 49 percent, and from 47 percent to 56 percent in relation to nature and wildlife. This shift shows elements that were once perceived as Australia’s barriers—isolation from the rest of the world and a large, sparsely populated land—are more desirable amongst travelers, post-COVID-19. Tourism Australia’s most recent research shows global travelers’ perceptions of Australia as a safe destination is increasing, and Australia is now the country most associated with safety and security, moving ahead of Japan.

Trend 3: Travel as a force for good  

Today’s travelers are increasingly seeking out brands and experiences that are not only good for them, but good for the world around them. This can take many forms, from supporting local businesses by shopping big at a local winery, bakery or butcher, to getting hands-on with bushfire restoration efforts via recovery tours and experiences such as planting a tree to help re-establish koala habitats in affected areas. Tourism Australia’s consumer research supports this “force for good” trend, showing that 91 percent like to travel to become more open-minded and knowledgeable about the world, and 74 percent are actively seeking out travel experiences that allow them to give back to a destination.

Trend 4: Indigenous experiences on the rise 

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a rich, living culture dating back at least 60,000 years. Year on year, more and more travelers actively seek out and discover Indigenous tourism experiences throughout the country that allow them to connect with and learn more about Australia’s First Nations People. Warm, welcoming and generous of spirit, they offer a means of connecting with Australian places and cultures quite unlike anything else. According to the International Visitor Survey, in 2019 alone, approximately 1.35 million international visitors took part in an Indigenous experience on their holiday—a figure that has grown by 5 percent each year over the past six years.  

Trend 5: Travel to regenerate

Following the turbulence of 2020, the desire to use travel as a moment to reconnect and regenerate will dominate in 2021. Soft adventure experiences like multi-day walks and wellness travel (i.e., spa holidays, yoga retreats) have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and the pandemic has only amplified the desire for this style of holiday. Destinations and experiences that leave travelers feeling calm and rejuvenated—whether it's an all-inclusive multi-day hike or an off-grid eco-cabin stay—are expected to be popular with travelers.

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