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Hot destinations & travel trends 2023 from Travel PR’s clients

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If you are dreaming about where to escape to in 2023, Travel PR clients have some fabulous destinations for you to consider.

HOT DESTINATIONS 2023

1. Eastbourne

Reasoning: Previously overlooked in favour of buzzing Brighton or hip Hastings, Eastbourne’s star is rising, with many catching on to the appeal of this coastal town, now seeing the regeneration previously enjoyed by other UK coastal destinations – including a £20m levelling-up fund award to boost the Terminus Road area.Sitting pretty on the edge of the South Downs National Park – and the start of the South Downs Way – Eastbourne is home to the magnificent TOWNER Eastbourne art gallery, host to the Turner Prize 2023 (exhibition from 28.9.23; prize announcement on 5.12.23).  The coastal town is seeing independent coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques springing up alongside its vibrant arts and culture scene, plus there’s the promise of an environmental venture headed up by the world-famous Eden Project, connecting people with the natural world (date TBA). For vibrant indie shopping and eating, try All Things Analogue, a curio-filled shop created by a former Foyles buyer; the Hyde Corner coffee shop, with hand-roasted Union Coffee and tempting cakes, and the Skylark restaurant, serving local produce and hosting candle-lit suppers thrice weekly. Summer sees a Walking Festival (June to August), with events/organised walks in the South Downs, plus the International Tennis Week at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne (18/25 June 2023).Sample Trip: Stay at iconic The Grand Eastbourne. Right in front of Eastbourne’s glorious seafront and charming Victorian promenade – and known by locals as ‘The White Palace’ – The Grand boasts 152 luxuriously furnished rooms and suites, many with sweeping sea views, plus two fine dining restaurants; try The Grand’s legendary Afternoon Tea! Stay overnight from £220 per room per night (two sharing), including breakfast. Contact The Grand Hotel on 01323 412345 (www.grandeastbourne.com).

Grand Hotel Eastbourne

2. Amsterdam

Reasoning: 2023 sees the largest-ever exhibition of Johannes Vermeer paintings on display at Amsterdam’s superb Rijksmuseum. The exhibition, which runs from 10 February until 4 June, will bring together most of Vermeer’s works from around the world, offering discerning travellers a unique chance to learn more about the artist – best known for The Girl with a Pearl Earring – and making it an unmissable year to visit this beautiful Dutch canal-side city.Sample trip: Specialist tour operator Kirker creates tailor-made short breaks to Amsterdam, including tickets to either the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum as standard. Stay at the four-star Ambassade, an exquisitely furnished hotel created from ten beautiful 17th century Dutch houses, overlooking the Herengracht and Singel canals; a three-night stay in 2023 costs from £898 pp (two sharing), including return Eurostar travel, transfers, the services of the Kirker Concierge, Kirker’s Guide Notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing, and Rijksmuseum tickets. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2288; www.kirkerholidays.com.

Kirker Amsterdam Hot destination

3. KYUSHU, JAPAN

Reasoning: Kyushu, the third largest and most south-westerly island of Japan, is internationally famous for its tonkotsu ramen, hot springs, dramatic mountains, and peaceful beaches.  In September 2022, it became easier to reach with the launch of the new Nishi-Kyushu Shinkansen bullet train line, all the way to Nagasaki from Fukuoka.En route south from Fukuoka, take in stunning views of Kumamoto Castle and volcanic Mount Aso, plus Kagoshima’s sun-drenched Amami Oshima archipelago (a 2021 UNESCO World Heritage listing). In the Oita Prefecture, discover more hot springs than anywhere else in Japan – with over 2,000 in the city of Beppu alone! – as well as a proliferation of scenic lakes, mountain ranges and waterfalls. KAI hotels – each with its own hot spring onsen – are ryokans with a distinct foodie focus; KAI Beppu, KAI Yufuin, KAI Izumo, KAI Unzen and KAI Tamatsukuri have all opened in the past 12 months.Sample trip: Stay at KAI Yufuin, situated between majestic Mount Yufu and a landscape of beautifully terraced rice fields. Designed by architect Kengo Kuma, Kai Yufuin is surrounded by pastoral scenery that changes with the rice harvest cycle. It boasts 45 guest rooms, all with tatami mat floors, bamboo furnishings and incredible views – plus a collection of villas with verandas and private outdoor hot spring baths, also with countryside views. Dining at KAI Yufuin showcases local food culture via its multi-course kaiseki menu, served in semi-private dining rooms. Rates from 70,000 JPY per night / approx. £415 for a double, including breakfast, dinner, tax and services.

KAI Japan Hot destination 2023

4. Norway

Reasoning: Summer 2022 was the first time that Norway was open to visitors again, post-pandemic, due to border closures and Covid restrictions, followed by reduced flight capacity when travel finally resumed. By then, domestic tourism was booming (Norwegians having rediscovered the joys of their own country) and any remaining capacity was snapped up by other international markets.2023 will be a different story; specialist operator Sunvil is already seeing a surge in enquiries from Brits keen not to miss out on their Norway getaway next year. Winter bookings are strong too, doubtless boosted by NASA’s recent announcement that the Northern Lights will grow in intensity until 2025, the Solar Maximum. In addition, there will be the new Arctic Route (public transport bus) from Tromso to Senja, Vesteralen, Lofoten and Narvik – starting summer 2023 – plus the Tromso to Alta route that’s already available from this winter.  Add to this an array of newly refurbished hotels and attractions, a strong and stable exchange rate with the Norwegian Krone and – of course – all the natural beauty/experiences for which Norway is renowned… it’s going to be a difficult destination to resist!Sample trip: Experience the wild and beautiful landscape of Northern Norway on a summer trip to the spectacular Lofoten archipelago, where precipitous mountains and sharp peaks combine with sheltered bays, white sand beaches and traditional fishing villages. Summer in Northern Norway: The Lofoten Islands costs from £1,457 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow) to Leknes, seven nights’ self-catering accommodation and hire car.  Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722; www.sunvil.co.uk.

Norway Sunvil

5. Pembrokeshire

Reasoning: Pembrokeshire has long been one of the epicurean highlights of Wales, and for gourmands looking for the next hot gastronomy destination, this beautiful southwest region of Wales should be on their list.The glorious coastal and pastoral landscape is home to bountiful produce and foodie highlights galore – ready to discover via foraging, seasonal dining at exquisite eateries, abundant produce markets and local food emporia and farm shops, including Ritec Valley Organics and Farmers Food at Home. The recently-opened Annwn Restaurant is a forager’s dream; spend the day learning how to forage in a sustainable and sensitive way, navigating the idyllic surrounds and landscapes, and finish with a multicourse dinner from the day’s finds. Blackrock Outdoor Company, meanwhile, specialises in coastal foraging – and, for those seeking more of an understanding of our fragile eco-systems, the Rockpool Safari Course is a must.Alternatively, the Really Wild Emporium takes groups along the Cleddau Estuary, where not only can you forage for food, but for remedies and cosmetics too – opening the eyes of the curious to the amazing wild ingredients that each season offers.Sample trip: Tying in with Pembrokeshire’s artisan and sustainable themes, Grove of Narberth offers relaxed Welsh dining at its best. Menus are inspired by the kitchen gardens and local suppliers. Overnight stays start from £189 per room (based on double occupancy), including breakfast.

Pembrokeshire

TRAVEL TRENDS 2023

  1. AN INCREASE IN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES AS TRAVELLERS LOOK FOR MEMORY-MAKING TRIPS – ENGLAND’S COAST

Forecast: “The squeeze on household budgets, due to the cost-of-living crisis and continued fall-out in the travel industry from the pandemic, is likely to continue the trend we’ve seen in terms of taking domestic breaks, particularly on the coast.“There is also a greater demand for immersive, hands-on experiences. People seek more from their down-time and are looking for memory-making trips such as live sports, immersive cultural experiences, fossil hunting, discovering skills such as foraging on the beach or trying a new water sport – whatever their age. Expect to see more adventurous and ‘live like a local’ options on the coast in 2023, too. Sustainable stays and travel are also seeing increased awareness; volunteering with marine life conservation and beach clean-ups are now considered to be part of a holiday where people can give something back. This trend is reflected in the year-long itinerary of events from Year of the Coast 2023, alongside the opening of new stretches of the England Coast Path; these will present an exciting range of new opportunities to parts of the coast never before accessible, making for memorable and, importantly, affordable getaways for families and friends.”

Expert: Samantha Richardson, England’s Coast (delivered by the National Coastal Tourism Academy)Sample Trip: Book with England’s Coast and stay in the heart of England’s prehistoric Jurassic Coast with Dorset Coastal Cottages. Sleeping up to six guests, the three-bedroomed nautical-themed Morlais Bungalow overlooks the glorious coastline at West Bay (from £820 for seven nights – £117 per night). Scour the World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast and discover ancient treasures eroded from the cliffs on a guided fossil walk from Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre; the middle of winter, when the weather has been rough, is the best time to hunt for them! Plan your itinerary with coastal booking tool www.englandscoast.com.

Lulworth Englands Coast

3. OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK TOURING HOLIDAYS – TRAVEL FOR LESS WITH YESCAPA

Forecast: “European and UK road trips and touring holidays will become more popular as the increased cost of living bites and travellers look for more cost-effective ways to reach destinations. In 2023, whilst people will still be desperate to get out there and see the world, cost will be an important factor in where they go. Increasingly, travellers will be keen to reduce their carbon footprint while travelling, too. Campervan travel to off-the-beaten track destinations, such as Northern Portugal – which has seen bookings increase by 64% in 2022 – will become more popular as people look to reduce their costs but still seek to discover new parts of the world, embracing the journey as part of their break, as well as the holiday itself.”

Expert: Benoît Panel/ Adrien Pinson, joint owners of YescapaSample Trip: Praia de Moledo, Caminha, Northern Portugal, is one of the best beaches in the region. With a band of golden sand at the mouth of the Minho River, which straddles the Spanish border, it’s even possible to swim across to Spain. It’s all about the scenery and natural beauty on this special beach, with the Spanish mountain Santa Tecla visible across the horizon, and the 17th-century island fortress of Ínsua jutting out of the water. A shady sliver of pine forest shelters the beach from the strong winds, which also create good conditions for year-round surfing. Fly into Porto from London Gatwick with easyJet and pick up Cátia’s Coachbuilt motorhome from Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto. Ideal for a family and friends trip, this van can comfortably sleep four adults and two young children. The cost is from £266 for five days’ hire in February 2023, including two insured drivers, breakdown cover and mileage (100 km per day). Visit www.yescapa.co.uk

Van holiday travel trend

4. BUCKET LIST TRIPS BROUGHT FORWARD – WITH EXPERT AFRICA

Forecast: “Following the global pandemic, and with ongoing instability and uncertainty in the world, we’re noticing people taking the plunge with bucket list trips for 2023 and 2024, rather than delay longer. Typically, it’s groups of people – mostly extended families or several couples travelling together – who haven’t been to Africa before but have always had in the back of their minds that they wanted to go.”

Expert: Chris McIntyre, Managing Director, Expert AfricaSample Trip: AITO* member Expert Africa (020 3405 6666; www.expertafrica.com) offers the very reasonably-priced 14-night Caracal Self-drive Safari – taking in the main highlights of both southern and northern Namibia, including the Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha – from just £1,840 pp (based on two sharing) including half board accommodation for nine nights, bed and breakfast for five nights, and car hire. International flights can be arranged at additional cost.

Expert Africa Travel Trends

Press: Please call Sue Ockwell, Karen Carpenter, Gemma Minto, Lizzie Cooper, Mischa Mack, Sally Firth or Jane Collyer at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email initial.surname@travelpr.co.uk for further information.*AITO is the Specialist Travel Association, www.aito.com, which boasts a membership including some of the best specialist tour operators and best specialist travel agents to be found in the UK.  High standards and financial protection are part of the deal, every time you book.

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