2020 Vision: 20 Tips, Trends, and Must-See Destinations of the Year


Nine Muses Travel, through the membership of Gifted Travel Network, is proud to be connected to the world's leading travel consortia - Virtuoso, a global network of travel advisors, suppliers and vendors who work in concert to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, special values, complimentary perks, VIP treatment and rare access. Virtuoso released this fun travel forecast, and it was too good not to share with you!


We have you hitting honky-tonks in America’s Music City, seeing the Summer Games in style, discovering Europe’s best-kept secret, and getting wild in Africa’s emerging safari spot. Plan on traveling sustainably, seeking antidotes to overtourism, and getting a healthy dose of urban renewal (like a digital detox and sleep coaching). They all top this list of where, why, and how to travel in the coming year. So start packing! The world is calling, and 2020 is going to be a great year. Word on the street: Shinjuku, home of Tokyo’s New National Stadium, is a must-see for the year ahead.


1. DESTINATION: Tokyo All eyes are on Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics, beginning July 24. Championing sustainability, the Olympic campus includes buildings repurposed from the city’s 1964 Games. New venues include the New National Stadium, which Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has designed in biophilic style (incorporating natural elements and views). Beyond the Games, Japan’s architectural prowess and love of nature meet at the new Shibuya Scramble Square, a 750-foot sky-scraper with a panoramic rooftop garden offering views of Mount Fuji and, by night, the city’s iconic kaleidoscope of neon lights.

2. TIP: Book Now

Hotels at popular travel destinations fill up fast – like Tokyo (even when it’s not hosting the Olympics). Don’t wait long to plan your trip around big events or during high season because demand will only increase as the trip draw near.


3. TREND: Traveling with Older Children

Resorts, cruises, and tour providers have long catered to families with young children (kids’ clubs and babysitting). But older teens and young adults, today’s Generation Z, are having more say in family travel. How about a cycling trip around Portugal or a culinary-themed walking tour in Napa Valley?


4. DESTINATION: Nashville

Ken Burns’ recent PBS documentary Country Music rekindled interest in the American genre and its capital, where Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge, Nashville’s landmark honky-tonk, turns 60 in 2020. The new year promises additional musical attractions: Steps away from Tootsie’s, the National Museum of African American Music – a 56,000-square-foot celebration of more than 50 styles, from gospel to funk – opens in the summer.


5. DESTINATION: New Zealand

In December, New Zealand introduced its tenth Great Walk, part of a series of signature trails that showcase the island nation’s biodiversity. The 34-mile Paparoa Track on the South Island’s west coast threads lush rain forests, skirts limestone cliffs, and features interpretive signs communicating the indigenous Maori perspective of the region, a historic hunting ground for prized pounamu (New Zealand jade). Last year, it introduced the Tiaki Promise, a tourism pledge that asks visitors to behave in ways that align with the nation’s respect for indigenous cultures and the environment.


6. TREND: Sustainable Travel

In January, Norwegian Cruise Line will rid all its ships of plastic water bottles. In busy Venice, Belmond Hotel Cipriani’s small-boat tours minimize eco-footprints and connect guests with local artisans (proceeds also support Venetian arts and social-welfare programs). And in Brazil, Abercrombie & Kent is partnering with a local NGO that works with native Kayapo communities to help protect their territory and heritage. The need to preserve the world’s ecosystems and cultures has the attention of the travel industry, which is pivoting to more sustainable practices. In some areas, the efforts are already paying off: In India’s Madhya Pradesh state, for example, Banjaar Tola, A Taj Safari lodge in Kanha National Park reports that sustained conservation efforts are helping protect endangered tigers; their population has more than doubled since 2006 to nearly 3,000 animals.


7. TREND: Undertourism

The phenomenon of overtourism has led cities such as Venice to levy a fee on day-trippers and Dubrovnik to limit cruise-ship calls. In response to overcrowding, the “undertourism” movement takes a positive approach to spreading out tourism’s footprint – for instance, by visiting the walled Adriatic city outside of summer’s high season or heading to Croatia’s more distant, lightly traveled regions instead.


8. TIP: Go Off-Peak in Peru

That legend of a glorious sunrise at Machu Picchu – another hot spot for overtourism – which perpetuates pre-dawn crowds? It’s usually cloudy! Visit in the afternoon for better chances of sunshine – and fewer crowds.  


9. DESTINATION: Faroe Islands

There are more sheep (80,000) than people (51,000) in the Faroes, making the 18-isle archipelago between Iceland and Norway a beacon to solace seekers. With stunning fjords, ocean-plunging waterfalls, treeless moors, and turf-roofed houses, the isles’ increase in tourism over the past five years stimulated the local economy, resulting in a tide of restaurants, including Michelin-starred Koks. You might sail from Aberdeen, Scotland and spend two days exploring legendary Viking strongholds, puffin colonies, and precipitous mountains in the Faroes en route to Longyearbyen, Norway.


10. DESTINATION: Patagonia

Eclipse chasers and adventure travelers, take note: On December 14, 2020 (summer in South America), earth’s next solar eclipse will transit southern South America. Its apex will pass close to Bariloche, Argentina, and Puerto Montt in Chile. A customizable six-day eclipse journey visits Argentina’s Lake District and includes luxe camping on a private estate staffed with an astronomy concierge, along the line of eclipse totality.


11. TIP: Get Starstruck

In addition to the rare solar event, there’s another celestial attraction: Geminid meteor shower. On December 13 and 14, 2020, up to 120 meteors will light up the sky. Patagonia’s dark skies mean good chances for clear weather, and its mystical landscape will help create an unforgettable experience.


12. DESTINATION: Lisbon

Portugal’s seaside capital will also be 2020’s European Green Capital, based on its efforts to fight climate change, which have led to a 50 percent citywide reduction in carbon emissions. Electric bikes comprise two-thirds of its bike-sharing fleet, enabling travelers to more easily manage the hilly city. The new designation, given by the European Union, will bring a series of new parks to a city already drenched in color. Adding 23 new rooms early this year by renovating two adjoining buildings, the 25-room Valverde Hotel also champions cultural sustainability, staging traditional fado concerts twice a week. Nine Muses travelers receive breakfast daily and complimentary round-trip airport transfers.


13. TREND: Urban Wellness

Traveling to a distant retreat to regain balance is always appealing, but a new spate of city wellness centers provides a convenient way to re-center more regularly. Consider the digital-detox program at Asaya spa in the recently opened, 413-room Rosewood Hong Kong, and sleep coaching at NYC’s new 212-room Equinox Hotel.


14. DESTINATION: Bahamas

Striking in September 2019, Hurricane Dorian made history as the Bahamas’ worst natural disaster. But many of the 700-plus islands and cays are still able to welcome travelers, including Nassau, Eleuthera, the Exumas, and the private-island resort Musha Cay, which has since hired 11 refugees affected by the hurricane.  Says Minister of Tourism & Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar, “We urge consumers to know that the best thing they can do for the Bahamas, now more than ever, is simple: Visit.” After Dorian hit, Royal Caribbean delivered some 600,000 meals from its cruise ships. The line is again calling in the Bahamas, including at its new private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, during five-day round-trip-from-Fort-Lauderdale sailings aboard the 3,858-passenger Independence of the Seas.


15. DESTINATION: Sri Lanka

After the terrorist attack last Easter, Sri Lanka suffered a plunge in tourism. But the government has stepped up security on the South Asian island, which boasts exceptional variety – both culturally, in Buddhist and Hindu temples, and geographically, in surfing beaches, tea plantations, and elephant-filled forests – in an area slightly larger than West Virginia. Expect any safety concerns to be allayed, and a rise in tourism will help the country recover. I can arrange a private guide and driver to lead your ten-day Sri Lanka trip, which includes a safari in Minneriya National Park, shrine and market visits in Kandy, and a hike in the verdant  highlands.


16. DESTINATION: Cairo

The long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum is set to open in 2020, replacing the overstuffed Egyptian Museum in Cairo with a bespoke treasury featuring expansive windows that fittingly frame views of the nearby Pyramids of Giza. After exploring Cairo, sail along the Nile from Aswan to Luxor (or the reverse) aboard the newly refurbished 54-passenger Oberoi Zahra, Luxury Nile Cruiser to visit the temples and tombs where many of the museum’s artifacts were found. Nine Muses travelers receive a complimentary 50-minute massage and a bottle of local wine.


17. TREND: Small-Ship Sailing

Small ships not only get passengers closer to their destination, but they avoid port congestion and are often designed to be environmentally friendly. Consider Hurtigruten, which recently introduced the industry’s first hybrid-powered ship, and Lindblad Expeditions, which went carbon-neutral this year by offsetting emissions from its fleet, offices, and land-based excursions. Consequently, small-ship cruising is booming, and a number of lines will introduce new launches next year, including Lindblad’s 126-passenger National Geographic Endurance, a pair of 184-passenger Ponant ships, and, in the Amazon, Aqua Expeditions’ 40-passenger Aqua Nera.


18. TIP: Take to the River 

River cruising lets you cover extensive ground effortlessly. Along with providing a strong sense of community among passengers, its intimate vessels offer the best way to see hidden corners of the world, while unpacking just once.


19. DESTINATION: Galway

Along with the Croatian port city of Rijeka, Galway will serve a yearlong term as a European Capital of Culture, showcasing its distinct blend of medieval castles, stunning coastal walks, travel-worthy seafood, and lively arts and music. Beginning in February, the city’s cultural fest will span more than 1,900 events hailing its creative contemporary and traditional Irish-speaking communities. Galway is an amazing city and a blend of university students and “blow-ins,” or people who relocate to Galway to start second careers. People here have followed their dreams, whether they’re chefs or brewers or buskers on busy Eyre Square. Galway’s eighteenth-century Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate salutes traditional Irish culture with salmon fishing on Lough Corrib, archery in its Walled Garden, and a falconry school. Two musts: sampling local whiskies in the Oak Cellar Bar and slurping Dooncastle oysters in Pullman Restaurant, housed in restored Pullman train carriages. Nine Muses travelers receive breakfast daily and a complimentary round of golf for up to two people per room.


20. DESTINATION: Rwanda

The volcanic Virunga Mountains shelter some of the world’s last mountain gorillas, in part thanks to government authorities, who restrict visits in Volcanoes National Park and sell permits to fund conservation. Set in the foothills of Rwanda’s Virunga range, three suites and two lodges at the new One&Only Gorilla’s Nest offer private views of surrounding farmland and eucalyptus forest. Guests on gorilla treks in nearby Volcanoes National Park connect with local dancers and musical performers (including former poachers who now earn their living through tourism) at Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village.


Contact me to envision your 2020 sight-seeing!


Article excerpts above by Elaine Glusac appeared in December 2019 Virtuoso Traveler. 

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