South Africa tops the wish lists of Virtuoso’s clients for travel in 2021 and beyond. It the first time in seemingly years that the “perennial favorite” Italy has been unseated as the No. 1 pick (although it only dropped to second on the list). In 2019, South Africa came in at fourth in the Top 5.

While clients are traveling less and nearer to home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, they are still using Virtuoso’s Wanderlist program, which lets clients pick destinations and activities they would like to experience. A new version launched this year, encouraging the clients to “dream freely;” this provided Virtuoso with insight as to where their clients would like to travel.

Beyond South Africa and Italy on the list of top international destinations were (in order): Australia, France and Japan. Both Australia and Japan are new to the Top 5 compared to 2019, while the United Kingdom and Israel fell out.

The issue: Americans, generally, can’t visit any of these destinations right now. Currently, all five countries have a Level 3: Reconsider Travel advisory by the U.S. State Department—in all cases, due to COVID-19. (South Africa additionally notes “crime, civil unrest and draught,” while France has an advisory due to “terrorism and civil unrest.”)

Further, all airports in South Africa remain closed to commercial traffic. Italy and France, as members of the European Union, currently have a ban on American travelers. In Australia, all arriving travelers must quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility, such as a hotel in their port of arrival. And people who have been in the U.S. within 14 days of travel are being denied entry to Japan.

On the list of top domestic destinations were California, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Montana. Clearly, due to the coronavirus pandemic, travelers are seeking out destinations in the U.S. that allow them to reconnect with nature and embrace physical distancing over, previously, more popular city destinations.

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