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What is ‘second city travelling’ and why is it a big 2020 trend?

A second city traveller will explore a country's lesser-known destinations, so as to combat over-tourism.

second city travelling, second cities, travelling, travel trends in 2020, what are second cities, indian express, indian express news When you plan your next trip, include some less-explored cities of a particular country in your itinerary. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

The past decade has seen some significant changes in travelling. What was once considered to be quirky, has now become mainstream. More and more travellers have begun to realise the environmental ramifications of their sojourns, thus planning trips with reduced impact on the host country and the environment. From having eco-friendly itineraries — with tour operators insisting on lesser carbon emission — to tapping into the power of social media, the decade has seen it all.

Of the many trends, ‘second city travelling’ is being highly talked about. It being touted as the biggest travel trend of 2020, given that it is one of the answers to ‘over-tourism’.

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As the name suggests, over-tourism happens when too many tourists begin to throng a particular destination. For instance, by the end of the last decade, cities like Amsterdam and Venice had to impose restrictions and even beg tourists to stay away, following a dramatic rise in tourist footfall.

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In Machu Picchu in Peru, over-tourism led to structural damages at the heritage site. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, over-tourism can also put a strain on the infrastructure of the place and threaten its cultural heritage. This is why in 2020, every travel enthusiast is being advised to embrace ‘second city travelling’.

second city travelling, second cities, travelling, travel trends in 2020, what are second cities, indian express, indian express news Second city travelling takes the burden off some big cities that are often crowded all throughout the year. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

What is it?

A second city traveller will explore a country’s lesser-known destinations, so as to combat over-tourism. According to a report by, 51 per cent of travellers are likely to swap a destination with an alternative, if it results in less of an environmental impact. In fact, it is believed that this form of travelling is more authentic as it lets you interact with locals and understand the culture better. It does not directly mean that you must not visit big cities, but smaller cities and less-explored destinations can tailor-make your journey.


In 2018, the American American Express Travel’s Trend Forecast suggested that a majority of tourists would explore “a new destination they’ve never seen more” and enjoy “getting lost and spontaneously discovering hidden restaurants, shops and bakeries.”

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The moniker

The term ‘second city’ is often used to refer to a city with the second-highest population in a country. In terms of travel, however, it can be used to describe the city that is not really the first and the most-obvious choice for a foreign tourist, but has on offer culture, food and other local attractions in abundance.


The next time you plan your travel itinerary, try to include such cities. Do a lot of research before heading out and make the experience as enriching as possible.

First published on: 21-01-2020 at 08:10:34 pm
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