Loch Fyne from Inveraray
Loch Fyne from Inveraray

Our 2020 Travel Trends

Putting together our holiday programme is always a fun experience here at Brightwater HQ and we take many factors into consideration. An added level to this process always comes at the end of the year, when ‘travel trends’ begin appearing. Often, we notice that the popular themes, buzzwords and destinations align with what you – our valued guests – feedback to us either before or after you travel with Brightwater.

This year has been an interesting one. From our own research into your booking habits, we’ve noticed a strong rise in the popularity of our Scenic Scottish holidays, taking more of you to the country’s islands and highlands than ever before, and to a higher number of Scotland’s islands – 33, to be exact. We’ve also noticed that there has been an increase in solo traveller interest as well as more demand for flower-based events, such as Chelsea Flower Show or the World Association of Flower Arrangers’ showpiece event known as WAFA.

Where the market is concerned, there are many statistics pointing to travellers wanting more hands-on experiences from their holidays, a steady growth in the popularity of river cruising and a trend towards undertourism – where people purposely choose destinations that are lesser-visited in a bit to avoid the typical tourist crowds. With this in mind, we've rounded up what we consider to be our travel trends for 2020 here!


According to ABTA's 2019 Holiday Habits report, UK cruise passengers reached over 2 million for the first time last year. One in seven people surveyed are considering a cruise in 2020, a figure that is 2% up on last year. The Silver Travel Advisor's 2019 Industry Report also revealed that 23% of respondents have taken a river cruise and that an impressive 74% would take another. The main reasons for the popularity of cruising is getting to see a selection of places on one trip and then only having to unpack once, and the rising popularity of river cruising stems from the fact that there is no threat of seasickness, due to sailing along smooth rivers. To support this level of interest, we have launched four European garden cruises for 2020, which can take you along beautifully scenic rivers in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

We have our Rhine & Moselle River Cruise, a Seine River Cruise, a Picardy Gardens Cruise, and a Summer Garden Cruise of Holland and Belgium. The latter of which is shorter at just four days long, and features return travel to the cruise’s start point by Eurostar – making it a plane-free holiday!


Something all of us are cautious about where our adventures are concerned is money. Cost of a holiday is usually the issue that makes or breaks a booking, and this is something we’re very aware of. Silver Travel Advisor's 2019 Industry Report says that while the majority of the 50+ market tends to spend between £1,000 - £3,000 pa (42% this year, 45% in 2018), there has been a shift towards people spending less than £1,000pa – a number that has grown from 20% to 28% over the past year.

With this in mind, we’ve ensured that our holidays are fairly priced with some being a real steal – our lowest-priced tour (Autumn Tints of Perthshire) starts from just £325pp! We have a selection of trips under £600pp and a huge range of holidays under £1,000pp. What’s more, we also have our price promise, which ensures that you’ll get the very best price for your holiday the earlier you book.


Many of our guests are solo travellers, whether by choice or by necessity, so we felt it was important to reflect this in how we structured our tour programme for 2020. Now, we have a total of seven holidays with no single supplement, which will come as a welcome surprise to our solo guests.

Wondering which tours are single supplement-free? Well, you’ve got the Alpine Flowers of Wengen, Arran – Scotland in Miniature, Autumn Tints of the Lake District, Gardens of Madeira, Historic Houses of the Scottish Borders, and finally the Gardens of Northumberland. For full information, you can read our Celebrate Solo Travel blog, which is here


Another trend for 2020 in the travel world is visiting a destination at the same time as a special event or festival is taking place. People are wanting more from their holidays – more authentic experiences, encounters with locals, or the chance to witness something unique and cultural that only comes (at the very least) once per year. We have a range of holidays that are centred around can’t-miss events, from the Viking festival of Up Helly Aa in Shetland and the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to the once-per-decade Passion Play of Oberammergau and even the 2020 WAFA event in India.

You can also now call our sales team to register your interest for the Floriade 2022 event, a real horticultural highlight! This international exhibition and garden festival is held every 10 years and the next iteration is set to take place in Almere, the Netherlands. Call us for more information on Floriade.


A word on everyone’s lips in the travel world lately is overtourism. As travellers, it seems that we are now more concerned with both the environmental and social impact that our holidays have. The past year has seen a rise in “second-city travel”, meaning that people are purposely choosing to visit lesser-known or not-as-popular destinations in order to give the major cities a break from the overwhelming tourist numbers. Think Venice, Italy. One of the ways we’re tackling this issue here at Brightwater is by offering a broader selection of the Scottish Islands as well as trips to towns and cities on the mainland that are outside of the usual favourites of Edinburgh or Stirling.

We can take you on a tour of Coll & Tiree, we can help you explore Perthshire in the autumn, and there’s a chance to discover the very northern edge of the country. Elsewhere, we offer interesting and somewhat unusual holidays to the Isle of Man, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and the Faroe Islands.


Not so much a travel trend as a place of constant intrigue, Scotland is undoubtedly going to be a hot destination for us in 2020. In 2019, we took more of you to this mighty country than ever before – and to more of its islands – and we are anticipating the same, if not higher, levels of popularity over the coming year. VisitScotland have named 2020 the Year of Coasts and Waters, themes which are also celebrated by our tours here at Brightwater! Speaking about the year’s theme, Marie Christie, VisitScotland Events Directorate Head of Development, explains: “From fishing and textiles, to whisky and wave power, Scotland’s waters have shaped our history and influenced our culture, our stories and our way of life. Our coasts and waters are host to an amazing array of riches and are greatly valued and cherished by visitors and locals alike, so it’s fitting that we have a full year placing them in the spotlight. Scotland’s distinctive scenery, landscape and our unique history and culture continue to remain the key motivations that drive visits to the country, so the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 presents a fantastic opportunity to play to our strengths.”

VisitScotland have also reported that overnight tourism visits to the country (from both domestic and international travellers) increased by 9% in the second quarter of 2019. It also revealed that domestic overnight tourism in Scotland grew by 17%, so demand is very much there.

In 2020, Brightwater is offering a broad selection of Scottish holidays, from an all-encompassing Grand Tour to more destination-focused breaks, including Autumn Tints of Arran and our Coll & Tiree trip. We have a few specialised holidays on offer, including Knitting in the Shetland Isles, An Archaeologist’s View of Orkney & Shetland, Whisky Tasting on Islay & Jura, Mull Wildlife Experience, Highland Wildlife Safari, and Historic Houses of the Scottish Borders. There really is something for everyone, whether you’ve already explored parts of Scotland and want to return or you’re a first-time visitor eager to learn more about this magical place.


  • Cawdor Castle
  • Eilean Donan Castle
  • Stirling Castle
  • Duart Castle
  • Kisimul Castle
  • Lews Castle
  • Dunnottar Castle
  • Noltland Castle
  • Muness Castle
  • Brodick Castle
  • Castle of Mey
  • Dunrobin Castle
  • Dunbeath Castle
  • Drumlanrig Castle
  • Kellie Castle
  • Glamis Castle
  • Floors Castle
  • Thirlestane Castle
  • Urquhart Castle
  • Blair Castle


  • Museum of Islay Life
  • Lews Castle & Museum
  • Shetland Museum
  • Hoswick Visitor Centre
  • Westray Heritage Centre
  • Timespan Museum and Arts Centre
  • Shetland Croft House Museum
  • Lerwick’s Textile Gallery of the Shetland Museum and Archives
  • Shetland Textile Museum
  • Nielanell Design Studio
  • Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum
  • Treshnish Isles Natural History Museum
  • Strathnaver Museum
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • St. Vigeans Museum of Pictish Sculpture
  • Perth Museum & Art Gallery
  • Hunterian Museum
  • V&A Museum Dundee
  • McManus Gallery & Museum
  • Verdant Works
  • Aberdeenshire Farming Museum
  • Aberdeen Maritime Museum
  • Kilmartin House Museum
  • Clan Donald Centre


  • Bowmore Distillery
  • Highland Park Distillery
  • Arran Distillery
  • Garioch Distillery
  • Oban Distillery
  • Ardnahoe Distillery
  • Jura Distillery
  • Bruichladdich Distillery
  • Laphroaig Distillery


  • Smoo Cave
  • Fingal’s Cave

To book your next Scottish break, just browse our website now – we have a broad selection of holidays on offer, which cover the length and breadth of the country.


Our January sales offers are now live – choose between a low deposit offer or a 5% discount if you pay for your holiday in full at the time of booking. 

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Our 2020 Travel Trends was published on 17 December 2019