Holidays to Iran and Cuba before ‘they change forever’

Although in the throngs of winter, thoughts for many will be turning to 2016’s holiday.

And next year it’s Spain that will reign as the number one holiday spot for Britons. But other countries are increasing in popularity, with Cuba, Colombia and Iran all tempting bucket list additions.

Holidaying is also set to become more sophisticated, with DNA analysis being used to draw up vacation fitness regimes and wearable technology helping with everything from checking in to ordering drinks at resorts. 

Travellers will also be hungrier than ever for gourmet food retreats. 

Here MailOnline takes a look at 2016’s top travel trends.

Next year Spain will reign as the number one holiday spot for Britons. But other countries are increasing in popularity, with Cuba, Colombia and Iran all tempting bucket list additions 

New flight routes open up Central America to UK tourists

Central America is becoming more accessible to UK travellers with the launch of the first non-stop flights to Costa Rica from the UK and increased air connectivity between Central American countries. 

In May 2016, British Airways begins a non-stop service from London Gatwick to the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, which follows the inaugural direct flights by Thomson Airways to the northern city of Liberia in November 2015. 

Central America (pictured is the Costa Rican jungle) will become more accessible to Britons and transport from country to country will also improve


Abu Dhabi


China – the Silk Road


Hawaii (USA)



Naples and Apulia (Italy)



Queensland (Australia)

Sri Lanka 

The new direct flights have not only made travel to Costa Rica easier, but also open up onward travel to the rest of Central America from the UK. 

New flights and the opening of airfields close to tourist spots allow visitors to experience beaches, archaeological ruins, mountains and the cultural diversity that define the whole Central America region, in just a few days. 

Return fares with British Airways from London Gatwick to San Jose, Costa Rica, start from £687 in World Traveller, including all taxes and charges.

Closer to home, Greece is set to benefit from a series of new flights, both to the islands and the mainland, as British Airways, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Jet2 have all announced new routes for next summer.

More people prepared to fly long-haul

Paradise is just a long-haul flight away, and more people than ever are willing to travel further afield to find the perfect holiday. More than three-quarters of those surveyed by Thomson would be happy to travel more than nine hours for their dream destination. 

In addition, 65 per cent of people who have travelled on a long-haul flight of more than seven hours believe a long-haul trip ranks as their most-memorable. 

The research supports a growing trend of long-haul holidays, with a 350 per cent increase in long-haul passengers over the past decade.

This graphic shows where Britons have holidayed over the years, with Spain the top destination

With travellers seemingly more keen to travel long haul, the world is opened up yet further

Britons set to reign in Spain

Spain remains a firm favourite for British tourists and is set to be the number one holiday destination abroad next year, with planned visits by 11 per cent of holidaymakers. 

Meanwhile, the British staycation trend is in decline, falling 25 per cent since the report began in 2011 to an all-time-low of 30 per cent of holidaymakers staying in the UK for next year’s break.

Spain will be the most popular destination for Britons to travel to in 2016

Despite its financial crisis, Greece (to be visited by four per cent of Brits) has risen in popularity, overtaking Italy (three per cent) to claim the fourth spot of Brits’ preferred holiday destinations. 

The USA (six per cent), countries in Asia (three per cent), Cyprus (two per cent) and The Caribbean (three per cent) have all crept up the list too, as the report shows holidaymakers can afford to travel further afield. 

Meanwhile, for the first time in five years, Turkey has dropped out of the top 10 list altogether, to 11th place, and Portugal has also decreased in popularity by one percentage point.

While most holidaymakers (39 per cent) will be going on one main holiday with occasional shorter breaks, the average Brit will go on 2.7 holidays in 2016 (an increase from 2.6 last year). 

Their main break will be a ten-day holiday, departing in June to a Spanish beach resort with their partner.

They will spend £730 per person on transport (getting there) and accommodation and will each allocate £513 towards spending money. Most will opt for self-catering accommodation (27 per cent), with 15 per cent choosing all-inclusive deals, 14 per cent bed and breakfast, and 13 per cent half board.

These figures were recorded by Travel Supermarket.

Mobile app bookings are expected to increase up to 50 per cent

One top reason mobile device bookings will continue to gain popularity among travelers is because brands are leveraging push notifications to reach consumers. 

This year saw the award-winning MyThomson and MyFirstChoice apps enjoy further growth, as customers took advantage of its cutting edge mobile technology. 

In addition, 33 per cent of all Thomson holiday bookings and 37 per cent of First Choice’s holiday bookings between January and November 2015 were made using mobile technology (smartphone or tablet) to access the best deals on their websites. 

More and more people are expected to use mobile technology to book holidays in 2016

The visa factor

As of March 2016, UK passport holders need the new Electronic Travel Authorization to visit Canada. British travellers can now use new e-visa schemes to popular destinations such as India and Kenya. 

Indonesia no longer requires a visa for British citizens and until 30 June 2016 all UK holidaymakers can enter Vietnam for up to 15 days visa free.

Value for money

With the British pound going from strength to strength, many destinations around the world now offer significantly better value compared to a few years ago. 

Trips to Australia, Japan and South Africa have all become more affordable. The travel company World Expeditions has adjusted its prices accordingly, offering savings of up to £860 per person compared to 2013.

Alternatively, combining a ‘staycation’ in the UK with an active break will minimise the costs, as in most cases no air travel is required.

Open for business

Six months after last spring’s catastrophic earthquakes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its advice for travelling to Nepal declaring it safe to travel. 

The reopening of the UK embassy in Iran after four years has been a step in the right direction for travellers’ peace of mind. Many travellers have discovered its rich history, magnificent architecture and enthralling culture – and its amazing hospitality.

Cuba, meanwhile, has come in from the cold, with drastically improved relations with the US, which has made it much easier for its citizens to visit the island and opened an mbassy in Havana.

What’s more, leader Raul Castro has enabled its population to cash in on the tourist trade.

Private restaurants are now permitted and homeowners are allowed to rent out more than one room. The knock-on effect is that accommodation and dining out options are drastically improving.

Many are now rushing there to see it before it changes forever to the extent that many hotels and tours are already sold out for 2016. 


1. 3 in 5 Chinese travellers consider it essential to bring their own towel with them on trips (61%).

2. No kettle, no deal; more than 2 in 5 New Zealand (46%), Indian (44%) and South African (44%) travellers won’t book a place unless it provides a kettle, tea bags and coffee, included in the price.

3. 4 in 10 Russian travellers have chosen a destination on the basis of whether or not they can get a tan (41%).

4. Travel provides writing inspiration for the French: one in four French travellers won’t go on a trip without a journal or notebook (25%).

5. Germophobic? Australians, Canadians, South Africans, Indian and US travellers top the list of nationalities more likely to consider hand-sanitizer an essential travel item.

6. Almost one in two Japanese Millennials have visited a location because they saw it on a TV show (44%).

7. Indonesian, Argentinian, Malaysian, Chinese and Mexican travellers are the top five nationalities most likely to pack an extra suitcase when they go on a trip, suggesting that they are the biggest travel shoppers.

8. Topping the thrill-seekers list for next year are Thai, Indonesian and Indian travellers, with one third saying they are planning to try adventure travel for the first time in 2016.

9. 47% of Brazilian Millennials will not stay somewhere that doesn’t include a mini-bar in the standard rate – well above the global average of 15%.

10. Germans are the most likely to find travel inspiration from a documentary, with one in four saying they have chosen to visit a destination for this reason (26%).

11. 34% of American and New Zealand travellers have chosen to visit a destination to attend an event.

Tech-savvy Indonesian and Chinese travellers are the most likely to be seen sporting wearable technology on their trips, with 16% and 12% respectively saying they won’t leave home without it. In contrast, only 2% of Italian and Japanese travellers consider wearable gadgets a travel essential.

13. Fitness first: one in six Indian Millennials won’t book a place which doesn’t have gym facilities (18%).

14. Brits are book worms with 37% saying their travel essential is an e-book.

15. The Swiss are likely to accumulate the most frequent flyer points in 2016, with one in ten Swiss travellers planning to take more than 10 international trips next year (10%).

16. Overseas relatives are most likely to get a visit from New Zealanders with almost one in three saying they chose a destination for family (30%). In contrast, Russians, Austrians and Thai are the least likely to visit a destination because of family with only 4% saying they chose a destination for this reason.

17. Smartphone snaps just won’t cut it for passionate travel photographers; Russian, French, Canadian, Austrian and Argentinian travellers are the top five nationalities that won’t leave home without a camera.

18. Australians plan to spend the most on travel in 2016 with an estimated average budget of $10,800. In contrast, Indonesians plan to spend the least with an average budget of $1,300.

19. Irish and Malaysian travellers are the most likely to choose a destination because there was a cheap flight available (39%).

20. 35% of Indian travellers are planning to go on a Safari trip for the first time in 2016.

21. Americans, Indonesians and Indians are the most likely to make work fun, with 23% saying they have extended a trip to a destination for leisure while visiting for business.

22. Chinese travellers are the most likely to be influenced by movies with one in five saying they chose a destination because they had seen it in a movie (20%).

23. 49% of Mexicans won’t book a hotel if it doesn’t have a swimming pool.

24. One in five Chinese travellers have visited a destination for a spiritual pilgrimage (20%).

25. Russian travellers are the most concerned with communicating in a foreign country, with 1 in 4 always carrying a dictionary or translation guide when they travel (25%).

26. Friends of the earth: one in ten Spanish travellers have chosen to visit a destination based on its eco-friendly credentials (10%).

Conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos, the TripBarometer study is the analysis of more than 44,000 survey responses from travellers and the hotel sector worldwide. The TripBarometer ‘2016 Travel Trends’ report presents a snapshot of the travel landscape for 2016, revealing country-level, regional and global travel trends. 

Britons no longer need a Visa to enter Indonesia, meaning untapped beauty to enjoy

As the country has only limited infrastructure to accommodate this influx, travellers are beginning to look to nearby alternatives. Colombia is one such destination. It’s still relatively untouched by mass tourism, is politically more stable than previously and features a fascinating history, beautiful colonial cities and lush landscapes.  

Demand for holidays to West Africa is also increasing now that the ebola outbreak has been contained.

Cuba comes in from the cold: It’s now easier for Americans to visit Cuba and the country is allowing its population to run private restaurants for the first time ever, which is good news for tourists. Pictured is the Havana Cathedral 

Cuba is increasingly popular with all travellers at the moment, to the extent that many hotels and tours are already sold out for 2016


Nick Rudge, managing director at, said: ‘TV and film are big influencers in holiday destination choice, the ‘Poldark effect’ this year being the most famous example from 2015. Viewing beautiful scenery on the big or small screen can be a great way of providing inspiration for choosing a holiday destination. 

‘Silverdale in Lancashire, which has featured on Autumnwatch, is currently our most popular destination for 2016, closely followed by Rosedale Abbey, in the North Yorkshire Moors, which hosted the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

‘Popular programmes can create a tourism legacy – Holmfirth, the home of BBC series Last of the Summer Wine, also features in our top 10 destinations for 2016, even though the show finished in 2010. It will be interesting to see the impact highly anticipated films such as Dad’s Army have on towns like Bridlington and of course, as Poldark confirms a second series, Cornwall’s popularity looks set to continue.’

Food holidays with a twist

Food and travel programmes are becoming popular on screens again, with the likes of Rick Stein travelling from Venice to Istanbul for the BBC.

With viewers becoming more discerning about their food experiences, more are seeking authentic and personalised food holidays. Cox Kings’ MasterChef Travel is offering new group tours for 2016, including to Japan with chef and MasterChef UK 2011 winner Tim Anderson, as well as private journeys to Istanbul, India and Spain for those who are after a more individual experience.

Following the unstoppable rise of healthy eating gurus, healthy foodie holidays are in, with more wellness retreats offering healthy cooking classes and seasonal farm-to-table cuisine harvested from their on-site organic farm or garden. 

With a range of healthy diet and nutrition options at retreats around the world, healthy foodies can choose tailor-made wellness meal plans, including alkaline, Ayurvedic, Macrobiotic or raw food diets. 

Foodie lovers in search of a cleansing detox will be pleased to know that juice cleanses are now taking a back seat to soup cleanses, with ‘souping’ offering a more satisfying experience for those looking to detox without forgoing food.

People could be inspired by programmes such as MasterChef to go on food-based holidays

Health and fitness holidays

The concept of what exactly a holiday is has changed over the years, with many preferring a more ‘active’ break than relaxing.

Taking personalised fitness training to a whole new level, the emerging science of DNA fitness testing reveals your genetic makeup and the appropriate training response for your body.

Through pre-arrival DNA analysis, fitness holiday programmes can be tailored to your physical ability and needs. 

For example, if the test reveals that you’re highly prone to injury, instructors can keep you away from intense bootcamp workouts and steer you towards low impact activities such as yoga or walking.

A growing group of fitness professionals are calling us out of the gym and back to nature.

Having a break based around workouts and fitness is becoming more popular

Making the most of their stunning natural surroundings, more fitness holidays are offering jungle gym circuit training, beach bootcamp workouts and guided coastal swimming. 

For those looking to push their limits, a rise in fitness holidays offering triathlons and even quadrathlons allows outdoor fitness fanatics to cover a variety of terrains, with beach running, jungle biking, ocean kayaking and abseiling.

A spokesperson for Health and Fitness Travel said: ‘With wellness tourism expected to grow twice as fast as other travel sectors between now and 2017, the emerging trends of wellness travel are set to lead the way in the year ahead. 

‘Offering everything from post-departure fitness DNA analysis to healthy foodie holidays and active meditation, wellness holidays are particularly popular amongs 30+ professionals, seeking an escape from their busy work schedules and the chance to rejuvenate their health. 

‘Yet, with emerging offerings including child friendly spa treatments, the wellness tourism industry is becoming increasingly popular across all ages, from young families to retired baby boomers.

Wearable technology on holiday

Tech-savvy Indonesian and Chinese travellers are the most likely to be seen sporting wearable technology on their trips, with 16 and 12 per cent respectively saying they won’t leave home without it.

In contrast, only two per cent of Italian and Japanese travellers consider wearable gadgets a travel essential.

Wearable technology will make the holiday experience in 2016 easier than ever  

Thomson and First Choice expect to see wearable tech giving customers the chance to enhance their entire holiday experience – from checking-in, paying for excursions and even ordering drinks in-resort.

And the New Year will also see Thomson and First Choice’s Innovation Hub continue work to bring immersive holiday experiences to customers across a number of platforms. 

For 2016 they are working on rich content and state-of-the-art technology on all devices, to provide customers with inspiration for their holidays at the touch of a button.