18th March 2019

The World Classroom: From ancient history to marine biology, demand grows for holidays with a learning focus

From perfecting yoga poses on the beach to joining literature festivals at sea, worldwide travel company Kuoni has seen an increase in bookings for people who want to blend their time away with learning a new skill or take part in an experience which broadens their knowledge and understanding of the world.

In Sri Lanka alone, bookings for cultural excursions with hands on experiences to try something new, from learning to cook local dishes to tea picking are up 12% year on year.   

A desire to broaden horizons and try something new is now one of the motivations to travel with 34% of people citing this as the reason for a change in their booking habits, according to a new report form worldwide travel company Kuoni.

The travel industry is responding by introducing ever more creative experiences which bring to life subjects beyond the classroom from ancient history to marine biology, with everything in between.

New research commissioned exclusively for Kuoni reveals 70% of people believe their reasons for booking a holiday have changed over the years with almost half (46%) saying this is due to more variety on offer with a wider choice of activities, workshops and retreats. 

Almost three quarters had been on at least one holiday as an adult where they had the opportunity to learn something new, agreeing that holidays are instrumental to lifelong learning.

And 60% of adults said they had learnt something new on holiday as a child, with more than half believing that their childhood experience had improved their life as an adult. 

Parents are also seeing the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and bolster their children’s education by choosing family holidays with opportunities to learn something about the world.

From a gladiator workshop in Rome to seeing hydrothermal activity first hand at the drive in volcano in Saint Lucia, selecting a holiday destination that allows their children the opportunity to learn a new skill or understand new cultures and environments is important for many parents. 

Being away from home with a sense of freedom is the main reason why 38% said that they did not feel embarrassed to try something new on holiday. 

Top 10 holiday learning experiences are:

  1. Conservation,  eg coral reef planting, turtle rescue, safari experience
  2. Photography
  3. Cookery
  4. Diving or snorkelling
  5. Watersports, eg kayaking, waterskiing, sailing
  6. Mindfulness
  7. Dancing
  8. Yoga
  9. Tennis or other sports
  10. Pilates

“From special interest trips to improve photography skills to eco-centres dedicated to learning about marine life,  we’re seeing more innovation than ever from hotels, destinations and cruise lines which are all investing in this area to appeal to new markets and to attract repeat business,” said Wendy Kenneally, Kuoni’s commercial & operations director.

“We’re seeing a thirst for exciting new workshops, classes and excursions not just from the family market – but for adults of all ages, from twenty-somethings to those in their seventies, who want to pursue their interests, take time out and try something different in new surroundings.”


For more about the World Classroom trend visit

Demand for long-haul holidays up as travellers look beyond Europe for this year’s big trip

2019 could be the year of the long-haul trip, according to premium worldwide travel company Kuoni.

Long-haul holiday sales to countries around the world are 4% up, as people look beyond Europe for this year’s travel plans.

Nervousness around Britain’s exit from Europe remains one of the biggest conversations around booking a holiday, so further afield destinations which offer more reassurance alongside good quality all-inclusive options are selling well.

Some of the places seeing particularly strong sales for 2019 include The Maldives, Thailand and Sri Lanka, which all make the top 10 in Kuoni’s Worldwide Travel Report, published today (25 February).

Derek Jones, CEO of DER Touristik UK, parent company of Kuoni said: “With a news agenda dominated by the ongoing EU debate, many people are looking further afield than they may usually do. Holidays are not something people will forgo easily.   We’ve seen strong demand for long-haul countries, which seem to be cushioned from the worries people have around Europe.”

 “Whilst January remains the peak booking month for travel, there’s a strong indication that in 2019 we will see holiday sales, particularly for short-haul destinations, more evenly spread throughout the year as people wait to understand more about what exiting the EU really mean.”

Kuoni’s latest report looks at booking trends for premium travel destinations around the world, with luxury beach breaks, escorted group tours and stay and cruise all in demand.

The Maldives remains top of the list of best-selling destinations, with an array of new resorts in the pipeline for the year ahead offering a broader mix of affordable luxury alongside some of the world’s most aspirational island resorts.

Sri Lanka is at number two position for 2019 with Kuoni bookings 8% ahead of last year, with much of the growth coming from multi-centre itineraries to include visits to include everything from beaches to tea plantations.

Italy is the only European destination to make the top 10 and is listed at seventh position, with bookings driven by honeymoons, destination weddings and luxury stays. The top three performing areas are Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Lake Garda and Sardinia.    

At eighth position, India has risen two places since last year, with sales four per cent ahead. Group tours and tailor-made itineraries are driving demand with a high number of repeat guests who have “done” the Golden Triangle and now exploring areas including the River Ganges and Varanasi as well as the lesser known national parks such as Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

Japan is listed as one of the rising stars - it’s been steadily making its way up the list of best-sellers for the past three years, and is up another three places to 24 for 2019. From the Rugby World cup in September to the Olympic and Paralympic Games build up for 2020, Japan will be getting plenty of exposure this year.

With security fears subsiding, Egypt is an old favourite which is seeing a return to form, particularly for Nile cruises which have resulted in a rise of seven places to 26th position.

Kenya is up seven places with no sign of slowing. Luxury camps, national parks and learning about wildlife in its natural surroundings all make it a favourite amongst customers of all ages, with more family and honeymoon bookings for 2019.

A new destination to the UK market, Ajman in the UAE is listed as one to watch. It’s not as well-known as neighbouring Dubai but with some of the best beaches, luxury hotels and a keener price point than Dubai, its creating its own identity as a winter sun choice rather than a stop-over.

Top 10 destinations for 2019:

  1. The Maldives
  2. Sri Lanka
  3. Thailand
  4. Mauritius
  5. USA
  6. Indonesia (Bali)
  7. Italy
  8. India
  9. Vietnam
  10. South Africa


Editors' note: The Worldwide Travel Report from Kuoni is published today 25 February and can be downloaded here

Travel Trends video -

Link to a collection of high-res images -  

For further information please contact:

Rachel O’Reilly, Head of Communications +44 (0) 1306 744194

Sarah Jackson, Senior Public Relations Executive  +44 (0) 1306 744006

Alissa Kirkwood, Public Relations Assistant  +44 (0) 1306 744731


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