Mexico and Maldives top long-haul routes in 2022, but why not look closer to home?

The depths of the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro could satisfy your sense of adventure.
The depths of the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro could satisfy your sense of adventure. Copyright Getty/Sankai
By Lottie Limb
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Flights to Cancun are soaring according to Skyscanner. But if biodiversity and beaches are your top priorities, Europe has plenty.


Mexico and the Maldives are the most popular long-haul destinations for Europeans this year, new Skyscanner data reveals.

With COVID restrictions being removed and confidence in global travel growing once more, holiday-makers are looking further afield for their next trip.

“According to our latest analysis, destinations such as Cancun, the Maldives, Dubai, and Orlando are proving popular amongst travellers seeking winter sun,” says Hugh Aitken, vice president at the flight searching platform.

The world’s fastest-growing routes include the Netherlands to the UAE, Switzerland to Mexico, Germany to Costa Rica, and Spain to Egypt. The website analysed ‘redirects’ - where customers click through to a travel provider to book their flight - and compared these with 2019 levels.

Looking at leisure routes between airports, Heathrow to Orlando emerged on top with a 245 per cent increase in redirects. This surge in popularity is largely explained by BA and Virgin Airlines now serving the city directly.

The next four spots were all flights from European airports to Cancun, with its beautiful white beaches and buzzing resort life.

Bookings for trips from Edinburgh to New York are also on the up, as US-Europe travel rebounds.

People are wasting no time in securing some winter sun, with trips of 7 to 29 days away currently making up a third of bookings across Skyscanner’s global platforms - a 25 per cent increase compared to 2019. Booking horizons of less than a week have doubled, according to the company.

Where to go in Europe instead, to cut down on air miles

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Soak up the sun on Croatia's Dalmation Coast this summer.Getty Images

“Short-haul and domestic air travel dominated 2021,” says Aitken, “but we expect international medium and long-haul to make a comeback in 2022 with traveller demand returning as vaccination rates increase and restrictions are updated.”

What’s good news for the global tourism industry isn’t necessarily great for the planet, however. If cutting down on carbon emissions is a priority for you, then you might want to look a bit closer to home.

And depending on what you’re searching for - you might just find it. Googling Orlando to give your kids a Disneyfied experience? How about checking out Paris’s own Disneyland first, or the colourful Legoland of Denmark.

If the abundant biodiversity of Costa Rica and Mexico has caught your eye, then why not explore some of Europe’s richest natural spots. Our favourites include the Dalmation Coast between Montenegro and Croatia, the peaks of Georgia, or the Douro River Valley running from Spain to Portugal.

We have sunny beaches aplenty too, from the Cote d’Azur to Rhodes - where a new sustainable tourism ‘laboratory’ is in the works.

Sustainable holiday providers

But if your heart really is set on a long-haul adventure there are more sustainable ways to go about it.

Organisations that have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration on Tourism are a good place to start.

Activist travel company Responsible Travel, for example, offers tailor-made trips that favour small, locally owned accommodations and restaurants. Sure, you might forgo the most popular resorts of Cancun, but they promise a far more authentic taste of Mexican culture.

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