Tourism operator Kuoni has released its top 10 best-selling luxury destinations for 2020, and there are a few surprises on the list.
There are no real shocks at the top of the countdown, with the paradise island nation of the Maldives retaining the top spot (which it has done for past 17 years) and Mauritius, Thailand and Sri Lanka following in positions two, three and four respectively.
But in at number five is Bali. It’s a heartwarming return to form for one of the world’s most intriguing and beguiling islands.
The Maldives is well known for luxurious experiences, like this barbecue on a deserted island at Maafushivaru Maldives
Bali’s upturn follows a devastating earthquake in 2018, and spa experiences overlooking a valley at Viceroy Bali (pictured) explain why – there are numerous ways to go glam on the island
The atolls of the Maldives welcomed over 1.5 million visitors in 2019, with the government hoping to increase worldwide visitor numbers to over seven million by 2027
Thailand boasts a number of key features popular with holidaymakers – bustling, neon-lit cities with five-star hotels, incredible beaches and warm, translucent oceans
The 200-metre-high (656ft) Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, is one of the country’s many outstanding natural features, which include rolling hills and stunning beaches
Infinity pools, never-ending horizons, calm oceans and white, sandy beaches – the key ingredients to any luxury getaway on a paradise island. Pictured is Chelsea Gates on the island of Bawah in Indonesia
With Greek islands like Rhodes, Kos and Corfu still a huge draw for holidaymakers, Kuoni reports that off-the-beaten-track small islands such as Skopelos also add to the country’s timeless charm
South Africa has edged into the top 10 thanks to some stunning open-air experiences, like this one: spending the night in a treehouse at Lion Sands in South Africa
Bali – often known as ‘the last paradise’ – has moved up the company’s annual ranking of luxury holiday destinations, from sixth, as its tourism industry recovers following earthquakes in the region in 2018.
It is the destination’s first upturn in the ranking in two years.
The island’s main resorts have always been popular with UK honeymooners, but in the past year more holidaymakers are being drawn to less-commercialised areas such as Lovina, which has black sand beaches and fishing communities.
British tourists were among those caught up in a devastating earthquake on the neighbouring island of Lombok in August 2018.
Some 460 people were killed and tens of thousands of buildings were damaged.
It was one of a series of earthquakes to hit Indonesia during 2018, wreaking havoc with parts of the country’s tourism industry.
Italy has jumped up one place in the top 10, with the southeast region of Puglia especially popular with travellers who want to experience amazing food, award-winning wines and stunning, sun-kissed scenery
The Algarve in Portugal is still popular with luxury-seekers, with pristine beaches, chic hotels and amazing food and wine available all-year-round
Bali: The stunning, verdant Indonesian island offers rich cultural experiences
Virgin Atlantic is adding flights into Antigua from June 2020, increasing its service from three to four times a week, so it’s no wonder that the Caribbean island is now seen as a premier luxury destination to visit this year
The Maldives is Kuoni’s top luxury destination for the 17th year running, and the island nation has seen significant investment in infrastructure, including a billion-dollar improvement of Velana International Airport
Thanks to hotels like Zilwa Attitude (pictured), Mauritius has jumped into second place, with travellers tempted by stunning national parks, botanical gardens, rum factories and Port Louis, one of the best cities in the world for street food
Spain is still one of Europe’s top luxury destinations thanks to stunning hotels like the adults-only Iberostar Grand El Mirador in Tenerife – an island that is helping to make the country a force again
The luxurious nature of these destinations often mean they’re ideal locations for not only weddings but also honeymoons
KUONI’S TOP 10 LUXURY DESTINATIONS FOR 2020
4. Sri Lanka
10. South Africa
The only European destination in the Top 10 was Italy, at number six. Other countries like Greece and Spain made the top 20, but Portugal and Turkey – although still popular – have some work to do.
Elsewhere, Kuoni says that demand for small-group, escorted touring is on the rise, with bookings up by 10 per cent. Travellers are increasingly wanting to pack as much into their holiday as possible, but with the security of a local guide.
One country that has benefited from this approach is Vietnam, the company said, which has knocked India out of the Top 10.
Destinations like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are proving to be increasingly popular in combination tours.
Egypt is also enjoying continued growth and that is set to continue with the opening of The Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which is currently under construction, scheduled to open later in the year.
The Saatchi Gallery’s Tutankhamun exhibition has also put ancient Egypt in the spotlight.
Other notable places hovering outside of the Top 10 – and ones to watch for next year – include Caribbean island St Lucia, Canada, Mexico, Greece and Japan.
India sits in 13th place.
All the destinations pictured can be visited via Kuoni.
Italy’s stunning Amalfi coast – including the picturesque town of Sorrento (pictured), which is studded into the cliff face – has seen the country retain its place in the top 10. It’s the only European country to be included
The verdant, rolling green hills of Italy mean it’s a fantastic place to visit and experience the always-charming juxtaposition of rustic countryside with chic glamour
While California and New England are still popular destinations in the US, less well-known cities in Oregon and the Carolinas are now served by new British Airways direct flights. In Portland (pictured), Oregon, expect craft breweries, field-to-fork dining and outstanding wineries
A hot-air balloon flight over the Maasai Mara during a stay at Governors’ Camp, Kenya, allows visitors to survey the impressive savannah beneath. One reason why the African country is proving to be a big hit
The Kalima Resort & Spa Khao Lak (pictured) in Thailand has ensured the southeast Asian country remains in the top three of luxury destinations, with Koh Samui, Bangkok and Phuket still the most popular places to visit
Could Vancouver – popular with a certain high-profile royal couple – be the next destination to break into next year’s top 20, or even higher? It has been voted as one of the world’s most liveable cities and has the Pacific and Coast Mountains nearby
Turkey is still a popular destination, with luxury hotels like Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet (pictured) in Istanbul, a boutique hotel with incredible panoramic views, leading the way. With nearby historical sites like Gallipoli and Ephesus, the country boasts a lot of must-see attractions
It’s no wonder Thailand is near the top of the list of luxury experiences – how does dining by a candlelit waterfall at The Sarojin sound?
The lush Caribbean island of St Lucia has been a big jumper on the list. It may not have made the top 10, but it’s one to watch out for in 2020
Vietnam has leapt into the top 10 thanks to its rich culture, sensuous sights and sounds, and several cities across the country that scream out to be experienced – like Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City