2016 was a year when visitors to Ireland broke an all-time record. Over 10 million people stopped by to see the likes of Dublin, Glendalough, The Giant’s Causeway and Skellig Michael. While that’s great for them and we’re thrilled to welcome even more visitors in 2017, we can’t help but wonder where else in the world is going to see a tourism boom next year?
In no particular order, here’s (the other) 9 less than typical travel destinations which are set to have their biggest year in 2017…
For some reason over the last few years, Belize has received nowhere near the recognition (or tourists) it deserves from Europe. 2017 is the year all this is about to change for this Central American haven, ready step out from under the shadow of its neighbours…
Typically the likes of Cancun, Costa Rica and Caribbean havens like St.Lucia have been more popular Central American holiday destinations.
We’re not going to argue with any of these as a place to unwind and explore but when you have stunning beaches, world class snorkelling/diving spots and Mayan ruins, why wouldn’t you choose Belize instead?
Belize is also the only country in Central America where English is the official language ahead of Spanish. Why? The country was formerly known as British Honduras. That’s a pretty significant hint.
Aside from the stunning Andean backdrops and unique vibes in the capital of Santiago, Chile is about to become much more accessible to European tourists in 2017 thanks to the introduction of direct flights from London via BA from January. If long haul flights don’t bother you, the 14-hour flight time will be so worth it when you land.
Chile is a country of extremes, not unlike New Zealand. From the stifling dustiness of the Atacama Desert to the sharp beauty of Patagonia and the stunning Torres Del Paine Circuit, you won’t be short on scenery.
One thing is certain, traversing this incredible country is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip so why not make it in 2017?
Now that the tensions of most of the second half of the 20th century with the US have dramatically cooled, Cuba is at its most popular right now.
It remains to be seen whether Cuba’s culture alters in the coming years but if we were you, we wouldn’t want to wait to find out.
When people talk about having natural phenomena on their Bucket List, nine out of ten of them will probably list the Northern Lights top of their pile. It’s no surprise then that Finland made the Top 3 of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel in 2017.
The Kakslauttenan Arctic Resort has recently set jaws agape all over social media with their unbelievable glass igloos set underneath the backdrop of the lights but that’s not the only attraction that is making Finland a must visit this year.
The country’s natural beauty rivals that of its Scandinavian neighbours while Helsinki is becoming a hotspot for great cuisine and nightlife. Finland also celebrates 100 years as a sovereign nation in 2017 so expect plenty of additional reasons to go this year.
With independent status from Serbia achieved in 2007, the Balkan gem has continued to grow as a holiday destination in 2016 and we’re expecting views like this one in Kotor Bay to ensure that the country of Montenegro and it’s capital, Podgorica, to welcome more tourists than ever next year.
Interrailing across Europe just got a new finish line…
It’s difficult to look at any other region in the world that draws as many travellers from around the globe as Southeast Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and even Laos are well-worn travel paths (and with good reason) however up until relatively recently, Myanmar wasn’t open for business.
Now it is and 2017 will be the year it begins to really catch up on its infamous neighbours for backpackers.
For starters, the Temples at Bagan are every bit as spectacular as Wat Arun in Bangkok, Ngoc Son in Hanoi or Angkor Wat in Siem Reap (well, maybe not the last one).
The game of catch-up is probably most forcefully being fought in expanding the country’s tourism infrastructure. Hotels are popping up on a weekly basis in popular destinations like Bagan and Yangon. Amenities such as ATMs and WiFi are also being made much more accessible in 2017 but it is perhaps fair to say that Myanmar is a fair way behind Thailand and Vietnam in this regard. Still, that guarantees an authentic experience, right? Right.
You might be surprised to learn that Nicaragua is actually the biggest of all the Central American countries (Mexico aside), yet has a smaller population than Guatemala and Honduras.
Despite being located at the foot of a volcano, the capital of Granada is often referred to as the ‘Paris of Central America’. The cobbled streets and colonial buildings will charm the pants off you.
Getting out of the city is when Nicaragua comes into its own. Over one-fifth of the country is protected by national parks or reserves, resulting in practically unrivalled natural beauty as well as some incredible wildlife. Oh, and if you’re the adventurous type then ‘volcano-boarding’ is practically the national sport in Nicaragua.
Looking for somewhere closer to home? That’ll be Portugal.
From exploring one of Europe’s oldest and most historic cities to Lisbon or relaxing on the ever-popular Algarve, it’s clear that Portugal should be a cheap getaway on your list for 2017.
A huge spike in visitors in 2015 (over 10%) barely slowed to 9.2% in 2016. You’d imagine a certain Cristiano Ronaldo has helped put Portugal on the global map but there’s much more to the place than where the mercurial talent calls home.
With activity and exercise holidays gaining popularity, there are hiking and cycling trails a plenty in Portugal plus some of the finest golf courses (with some guaranteed golfing weather) around to enjoy.
Not to be confused with their highly secretive neighbours, South Korea is a modern marvel. Particularly Seoul, which has become a utopia of sorts since hosting the 1988 Olympics (their Olympic park remains one of the most impressive ever built).
Right now, Seoul leads the world in WiFi speeds, airports (it has a golf course), McDonald’s (they all deliver!) and dog cafes. It doesn’t fair badly at skyscrapers either with the recently opened Lotte Tower now the 6th tallest in the world at 540m.
Finally, South Korea itself has smashed its visitor record in 2016, projected to be up 21%. It seems Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo have another big player to contend with in East Asia.