Question: Where do you predict will be the most popular 2020 travel destinations?
Phil Sylvester: We have seen phenomenal growth in adventure travel to South America, in particular Peru and Colombia. I think the growth is being driven by value. Places like Thailand are not as cheap as they once were, and there's a growing sense of "been there done that". But South America is cheap, exciting, increasingly safe and exotic… a little like Southeast Asia was 25 years ago.
Question: Why do you think Australians have got more exotic and inspired with their travel destinations?
Phil Sylvester: Australians have long had a reputation for being great travellers. I don't think it's because we feel Australia is missing anything, it's just when you've gone so far from home you might as well have a good look around!
That natural curiosity is being helped by the cost of travel. It has never been so cheap. Plus, there are more budget airlines than ever, and many more destinations opening themselves up to international travel. The opportunities are greater, and Aussies grab them with both hands.
Question: Can you share your travel tips, for these regions?
Phil Sylvester: (South America) We're lucky to live in one of the safest countries on Earth. It's pretty rare to find a place that's dangerous. The concept of being "on the wrong side of the tracks" is strange to us. But that's not always the case overseas. You need local knowledge. We have an entire travel safety section with tips and advice written by locals and those in the know, but when you're in a place check with a trusted local about the potential trouble spots. Chat to the hotel reception desk about potential trouble spots, any parts of town to avoid, or common scams to watch for.
Question: How important is sustainable travel to Australians?
Phil Sylvester: Increasingly important. And it is being driven by millennial travellers who are beginning to dominate the travel market as baby boomer travel passes its peak. 80% of millennial travellers demand a sustainable travel experience. But it is anticipated it's when gen Z comes of age the trend will boom.
The definition of sustainable travel is also evolving. It once meant hanging your wet towel up instead of dropping it on the floor for housekeeping, but now it encompasses eco-friendly practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, and the generation of economic and social benefits for local populations. At World Nomads we think awareness of all those aspects is what makes a responsible traveller, and to help people achieve it we have published our Responsible Traveller manifesto as a guide.
Question: Where were the top travel destinations for Aussies in 2019?
Phil Sylvester: Indonesia
Bali (yes, we know it's Indonesia, but we let people specify)
Question: How can we get the best deals in travel, this year?
Phil Sylvester: If you travel at peak times (essentially school holidays) you are going to pay top dollar, so have a look outside those times. There's something to be said for travelling in low season, the weather might not be so nice, but the tourists are gone and the locals are living their regular lives. Tourist attractions may be closed, but the locals will still be making their own fun – join in!
If you have to travel in high season keep an eye on booking sites which almost always have a "best time to book" app to get the lowest fare.
Question: What is the next place on your travel bucket list?
Phil Sylvester: I have to admit this year I'm being inspired by the mis-heard lyrics of the 1982 hit "I've never been to me" by Charlene. The actual words are "I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me." But I could swear she's singing "I've been to Paris twice, but I've never been to Greece." Which is entirely true for me, so I'm going to go to Greece.
Interview by Brooke Hunter