Cuba and Croatia: Out tips for 2015

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Cuba. Will it lose its charm as more tourists arrive?

Cuba. Will it lose its charm as more tourists arrive?

Cuba wins our totally unscientific poll as the main tip for 2015 and also our America’s tip of the year. The country makes the number one spot – although there is a lot to see, and enjoy but because our writers wonder whether the country is about to change. The decision by the US and Cuba to normalise relations means that many more Americans will travel to the country over the next year or so. Hotels will need to be built to accommodate this influx, attractions will move in and our writers think that the atmosphere of the country might change in order to take advantage of more tourist dollars. Their advice is to go now and see how Cuba really is before the change occurs.

Elsewhere in the Americas, Mexico will continue to be a big attraction merely because it has good connection but because it can combine heritage and coastline and a cuisine at readily affordable prices and Jamaica will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Bob Marley’s birth so some of us will travel to the country just to take part in the musical celebrations.  Colombia and Uruguay in South America are our tips for south of the Panama Canal with Nicaragua and Guatemala as places to watch in the centre. In North America, the tip is for the city of Atlanta in Georgia as it reaps the benefits of anniversaries connected to the Civil War and two films, the perennial favourite, Gone with the Wind and The Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part 1. It also has the benefit of direct links to the UK and a new direct link from Virgin to add to the links via British Airways and Delta all of which makes it easy to see the city and then head out into the state to see the “deep south.”

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

An old favourite is the European destination tip for 2015 – Croatia. Although the country has been on the list of many people for many years, the tourism authorities are continuing to sign up new regional airports to provide direct flights to the country and more tour operators to provide holidays there. New ferry routes mean it is easier to hop amongst the islands, the roads are good for touring and it is possible to combine – in just one holiday – more than one experience. A beach holiday can be combined with an adventure break in the mountains or a heritage visit; sailing or snorkelling can be combined with a gastronomic splurge and yet this all-year round destination is just a few hours away meaning that jetlag is not an issue for any holidaymaker.

Elsewhere in Europe watch for an increasing popularity for holidays to Serbia, Montenegro and Romania as they offer better value-for-money opportunities compared to their rivals. But don’t forget Holland and Amsterdam – a popular city-break destination because of all the KLM links via regional airports. More people are realising that a twenty to sixty minute train ride from the airport takes you to places like Utrecht, Leiden and the Dutch coastline giving you a lot to see in your holiday. And their trains have a habit of running on time as well!

a temple complex in Cambodia

a temple complex in Cambodia

Our Far East destination of the year is Cambodia. Less well visited than its neighbour, Vietnam, Cambodian heritage is one reason for the hot tip as is the coastline and the islands in the Gulf of Thailand. There are more cruises available on the Mekong River than ever before and river cruising is proving to be one of the growing areas in the holiday market. With a different culture and a cuisine that is slightly different from what we expect in the Far East, this still remote country will attract those that always desire somewhere different.

Its neighbour, Thailand, also made the list as the country most likely to have a strong bounce back after the difficult time it has faced. Britons still love the country and we feel that numbers will rapidly increase because there is always another island, another resort and another friendly greeting to welcome you. It also has a large number of international direct connections into the capital, Bangkok, and a strong internal air system to get you to the destinations and resorts quickly.

As the last Lord of the Rings movie hit the screens earlier this month will New Zealand still outperform its Pacific neighbours? Our Pacific tip for 2015 this year isn’t a city or one of the big tourism draws but the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland. It already attracts a lot of visitors but the combination of the forest itself and travelling above it in cable cars, its proximity to the coastline, (and the Great Barrier Reef) a train journey through twisting scenic curves to Cairns as well as the wildlife in the rivers jostling in and out of the forest makes this part of Australia one of the places where you can combine a different sort of outback with authentic Aussie life.

the evening skyline in Namibia

the evening skyline in Namibia

Choosing an African tip for 2015 was more competitive and, as decider-in-chief, I declared a draw with Namibia and Mozambique as joint winners. Both offer the opportunity to see wildlife as they should be seen; both adopt a welcoming attitude to visitors and both have not become over burdened by an influx of tourists.

Our writers highlighted two other general features for holidays. The first is whether the boom in ocean cruising is ending and being replaced by river cruising where smaller, more intimate ships and giving way to the massive water cities that some ships have become and the second is the growth in luxury railway holidays. Ecuador introduced another railway holiday offer and those in India, Australia and Canada are popular.

Why should you think that our tips are any better those of anyone else? The simple answer to that question is that they aren’t. Yes, we see and hear more of the world than most of our readers but we can’t travel everywhere, every single year to compare the changes that have occurred. We have different attitudes so that’s why 23 different destinations were nominated by our writers.

Atlanta

Atlanta

I asked each of them where they thought would be the hot spots of 2015, the up and coming areas where people aspired to go and why they should consider those places and not where they expected people to go. If I had have asked them that then the answers would have been Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Portugal which would have been pretty much the same suggestions they would have given me last tear. And the year before. And the year before that.

But will our tips be likely to live up to our hopes. Probably not. The first thing you learn about travel is that holidaymakers can be swayed by a news story, a television documentary, an event, a film setting or even a travel agents’ view. And all of the destinations are trying to influence anything that gives them publicity that so you will holiday there rather than somewhere else.

That just leaves the UK? We’ll reveal our tips shortly.

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