When it comes to creating big life moments, from seeing wildlife in its natural habitat to experiencing iconic sights, more than 60% of British adults are prepared to invest more than the average holiday in making their 'wish list' a reality, according to Kuoni.
The operator reports that it has seen holidays with an adventure, cultural or touring element as part of the itinerary grow at twice the pace of stay-put beach breaks over the past two years.
Whilst the Maldives, Thailand and Sri Lanka top the best-selling destination list for 2016, the rising star destinations for the year ahead are led by Japan, followed by Myanmar (previously known as Burma), Kenya and Namibia, which have seen the biggest rises in bookings year-on-year.
Another destination making an impact on the travel market is Vietnam, which has rapidly risen up the best-sellers list over the last two years. Unlisted in the company’s top 20 five years ago, advance bookings for 2016 show Vietnam at 12th position - its highest ever point in the list of best-selling destinations. Direct flights to Vietnam from the UK have had a huge impact on tourism over the past two years and the country is adapting fast with innovative new high quality resorts.
Cuba, also listed in the top 20 list of best-selling destinations at eighth position, has become so popular that demand is now out-stripping supply. Tourism continues to thrive and the message to 'see Cuba before it changes' when it opens up to the American market, has driven increased bookings over the last 12 months, putting pressure on a finite number of hotel rooms particularly in Havana.
Despite 2015 being defined by headlines from the Tunisia attacks to the economic meltdown in Greece, the operator's report reveals demand for worldwide travel shows no signs of slowing.
Whilst confidence in travel for wish list destinations and experiences is unabated, booking patterns for 2016 do reflect a hesitancy to book some destinations, with Egypt dropping out of the top 30, Morocco and Turkey down and even the ever-resilient Dubai and Abu Dhabi experiencing a slight dent in bookings year-on-year.
Yet with the pound riding high against most currencies at the moment, travellers from the UK are enjoying some of the best value holidays to many long- and short-haul spots.
African destinations in particular are enjoying an upward turn on the back of the favorable exchange rate, with South Africa rising into the top 20 for the first time, Namibia up 12 places and Kenya bookings recovering since the FCO restrictions on travel to coastal areas was lifted last September.
British travellers are also making the most of the great value in the euro zone, which overall has seen bookings increase by 30% year-on-year, according to the report. And with the pound hovering just above €1.30, Spain, Greece and Portugal are all expected to rise by double-digit figures for 2016.
Derek Jones, the company's managing director, said: “Travel has become so integral to people’s lifestyle - there is a desire to see and experience the world like never before. New direct flights from the UK to places such as Vietnam, Peru and Costa Rica this year means parts of the world are opening up for mainstream tourism, which is changing the landscape of travel.
"Beyond the mass-market beach trips, which tend to be much more price-sensitive, we are definitely seeing a thirst for exploration amongst British holidaymakers prepared to invest in making their wish lists a reality and travel with companies which have a network to support them should anything go wrong.”
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