Hayes & Jarvis expects a boom in numbers to Japan in the next two years, thanks to a new British Airways service and high-profile sporting events.

In its annual travel trends report, the long-haul specialist tips the Asian country as the “next big thing”, saying: “Our experts anticipate an unprecedented increase in travellers heading to Japan. With the rugby world cup in autumn 2019, and the 2020 Olympics the following year, Japan tourism is expected to boom.”

BA will start a new direct service on March 31, linking Kansai International Airport, Osaka, with Heathrow four times a week.

Karen Noble, destination manager, advised clients to stay at a hot spring resort in Hakone in September to November.

“Rainfall is low and you’ll witness the autumn foliage (Kouyou) in the surrounding forest while relaxing in spring pools,” she said.

The operator has also added a new escorted Japan tour offering the chance to see snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs of Jigokudani National Park (pictured).

Overall, the best-selling destination for 2019 so far is the Maldives, which retains the top spot it had in 2018.

Thailand is again in second place, with Sri Lanka replacing Mauritius in third. The highest climber is Tanzania, which has soared 17 places to number 11, with bookings 62% up year-on-year.

The 2019 report highlights route launches, anniversaries, events and key hotel openings.

It said there is “a lot is going on behind the scenes at Manchester Airport in preparation for a bigger and better 2019”.

Among the new routes from Manchester will be Virgin Atlantic’s three-times-a-week service to Los Angeles, from May 26, and Qatar’s triple-daily link to Doha, from May 19.

It previews upmarket resorts opening in the Maldives, Cambodia and Singapore, and features new private tours in Mexico, Mauritius and Vietnam.

For the first time, the report also includes trends and tips in Australia and Europe from sister Travelopia brands Austravel and Sovereign Luxury Travel.

In Europe, Sovereign’s top seller so far for 2019 is Tenerife, followed by Lanzarote, Halkidiki and Cyprus.

Furthermore, the report has tips about holiday photography, sustainability, multi-centre tours and wildlife holidays – as well as advice about Brexit.

With uncertainty about Brexit, the report said: “The best advice for anyone looking to travel next year is to book a packaged holiday with an Abta member and Atol-protected tour operator.

“Booking a packaged deal that includes accommodation and flights provides holidaymakers with added security, ensuring all elements of the holiday are covered and protected.

“We also encourage travellers who may be concerned about the prospect of Brexit to take the opportunity to travel outside the eurozone.”

Top 11 destinations for 2019 (2018 position in brackets)
1 Maldives (1)
2 Thailand (2)
3 Sri Lanka (4)
4 Mauritius (3)
5 Bali (6)
6 Kenya (5)
7 India (9)
8 Mexico (7)
9 Canada (13)
10 Malaysia (8)
11 Tanzania (17)

The full report is available to read online at hayesandjarvis.co.uk/inspire-me/whats-hot-2019