Austria, Iceland, Mongolia: Flight Centre predicts 2018’s hotspots

There have been plenty of 2018 forecasts recently, but it seems none have been so hotly anticipated as this.

Flight Centre has finally released what it thinks will be hot and not in 2018, and some of it may surprise you.

From Mongolia to Samoa and everything in between, this is what Flight Centre is predicting for the year ahead.

Like so many travel companies, Flight Centre is looking forward to seeing more responsible travelling, with travellers seeking to create a positive impact on the destinations they visit.

As well as this, the travel giant is touting increased airline capacity and direct routes as a massive cause for change in 2018.

FC also acknowledges travellers’ desires to go ‘off the beaten track’ and explore new ground which is set to see well-travelled tourists take a different path.

Responsible travel

Twenty-first-century travel offers so much more than flights, accommodation and transport.

Travel organisations have recognised a fundamental shift in travel motives and are providing journeys that include opportunities for travellers to have a positive impact on destinations, learn new things and understand the world around us.

“Flight Centre Travel Group is committed to the principles of responsible travel, conservation of natural resources and sustainability through its initiative, Worldwise, and partners with likeminded organisations such as Intrepid Travel to conduct business in a manner that benefits the natural environment and local economies.”

Thailand is a popular responsible travel destination where you can visit elephant sanctuaries and see them in their natural environment.

So where are the hottest spots?

Well, without any further adu, these are the places FC is urging you to book in 2018:


Adventure, culture, food, fashion…and a bit of Zen on the side. What’s not to love? Japan has seen a massive surge in popularity over the past few years with no end in sight.

“In fact, over the past three years Flight Centre has seen booking volume almost double and with the nation set to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 you can expect to see some heavy promotion of all Japan has to offer throughout 2018.”

There are more direct services on offer than ever before with Qantas, Jetstar and All Nippon all offering affordable flights year round.


Topdeck named Mongolia the one to watch in 2018 and has just launched a Trans-Mongolia Railway journey between Moscow and Beijing.

Not many people realise that a proportion of Mongolia’s population still live nomadic lives which is quite a foreign concept to travellers.

Guests on this tour are housed in a traditional Ger Camp to become one with the Nomads in the breathtaking Gorkhi Terelj National Park, something you can’t experience anywhere else.

Rolling hills, wildflowers and radical rock formations are just some of the hidden gems Mongolia has to offer. The best part? Train travel is both nostalgic and insanely Instagram worthy!


“Bookings are up 300 per cent over the past three years so it will come as no surprise that Iceland makes our list for 2018.”

Experiencing the northern lights is firmly on the bucket list of must-do travel experiences and as a result, the spotlight is on Nordic countries as travellers take the opportunity to explore the region further.


When the US lifted its travel restrictions on Cuba in 2015, it really opened up the region to a burgeoning tourism market.

“Over the past three years we’ve seen bookings jump 176 per cent as Aussies find a certain intrigue in the unique culture, heritage and atmosphere of Cuba.”

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka bookings are up 19 per cent this year alone and with Sri Lankan Airlines starting direct services from Melbourne to Colombo recently, we’re picking this island oasis will go gangbusters in 2018.

Not only is the island fascinating from a touring perspective – there are now world-class international resorts opening up new, untouched areas of the island and Flight Centre anticipates many Aussies who have already experienced Bali and Thailand will add this gem to their wish list.


With a 245 per cent growth over the past three years, Samoa is rapidly becoming the must-do idyllic escape for travellers who have already experienced Bali and Fiji.

The ‘untouched’ atmosphere of Samoa really resonates with travellers who are more and more inclined to seek out authentic experiences in a land that is yet to really undergo the commercialisation of popular tourist hotspots.

The typical route to Samoa is via Auckland with Air New Zealand but from November 2017, Virgin Australia will offer direct services to Apia from Brisbane and Sydney.

“We anticipate this will come with increased interest in Samoa, especially given its short five hour (from Brisbane) travel time.”

Hamilton Island

It’s never been a better time to visit this tranquil slice of picturesque Queensland.

Following the refurbishment of luxury resort Qualia mid-year, Tourism and Events Queensland launched a three-month marketing push for the winter season.

“Bookings in July were up 44 per cent year on year and Flight Centre anticipates this domestic hotspot, with its year-around appeal, will really heat up for travellers in 2018.”


Air Canada will add direct flights between Melbourne and Vancouver in June 2018, making it the third Australian capital city with direct flights into Vancouver.

This will inevitably encourage increased opportunity to visit Canada outside the ski season as currently the carrier only operates a seasonal direct service from Melbourne between December and February.

Canada is growing in popularity as a preferred entry into North America, thanks to its incredibly varied list of attractions, jaw-dropping landscapes and tour itineraries galore.


In 2018, the spotlight is set to shine on the Austrian capital’s gallery and museum circuit as Vienna plays host to numerous special exhibitions examining the impact and lasting legacy of the artists, scientists, architects and great thinkers of the 1900s.

“2018 marks 100 years since four of Vienna’s most important protagonists died: Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner and Koloman Moser.”

There will be countless events and tours exploring the music, literature, philosophy and imperial furniture of the Viennese Modernism and Art Nouveau period also, offering wider context.

Art connoisseur or amateur admirer, the chance to take part in it all is not to be missed. Weave this European gem into your itinerary on a tour, Danube river cruise or fly directly in.


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