What’s hot in 2017 – according to the travel industry part 3

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
Macchi Pichu

Macchu Pichu in Peru. Peru is on the list of many companies

Although National Geographic Traveller (UK) is neither a tour operator nor a travel company, we thought that we would include what it calls its “Cool List 2017.” It has selected 17 must-see destinations for the year ahead which have been chosen by its team of editors and writers. It lists Donegal in Ireland as its first choice, followed by Santiago in Chile, (due that BA new flight again) the Finnish capital of Helsinki and Greenland which, it suggests, is appearing on more and more itineraries from tour operators.

Peru is on the list because of another BA direct flight that began in summer 2016 and because of the cable-car link at Keulap as well as the start of the Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Arequipa which starts in May 2017.

The magazine includes Arhus in Denmark on the list because it is one of two European Capital of Culture in 2017 (but not the other, Paphos in Cyprus.)  Canada is included because of the anniversary already mentioned and Portland in the US state of Oregon is included because of a reason readers will be familiar with – the start of a direct flight by BA. This starts in May. Portland is the gateway to the state which is described by the magazine as “perhaps the most underrated state in the Union “

India is chosen – not for the independence anniversary celebrations  – but because it is “sandwiched between the release of two Jungle Book films” and the magazine suggests now is the time to “get to know India’s wildlife.” It also opts for South Africa because – as has been mentioned elsewhere – it is good value for money and because BA and Thomas Cook are launching seasonal flights from Gatwick.

Iran is on the list due to the “thawing of relations” and says that “Virtually no one comes back from Iran without remarking on the friendliness and hospitality of the Iranian people.”

With the 150th anniversary of the Maori Representation Act next year, New Zealand is on the magazine’s list but it is also there because of the visit of the Lions rugby team – their first visit in twelve years.



The capital of South Korea, Seoul, makes the list because of the opening in late 2017 of the Seoul Skygarden — a former bypass converted into a half-mile stretch of raised urban garden, replete with cafes, performance spaces and shops.

Many moons ago I worked for an African publication. We had a few writers who always espoused the beauty and attractions of Sudan claiming it was like nowhere else. The magazine includes the country on its list as an alternative to Egypt pointing out that the ancient monuments at Meroe and Karima are arguably a match for anything in Cairo.

Düsseldorf is included as being among the best short-range weekend break destinations. That may also be due to the fact that so many regional airports in the UK have direct links to the city.

Sicily’s oldest museum, Palermo’s Museo Salinas, has reopened and the appeal of its archaeological treasures plus new air links with the island in 2017 are the reasons that the island joins the list at number 16.

The final choice is the USA. It joins because of all the new air routes that are being established in 2017 by Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.

Continuing with tips on where to travel in 2017, On The Go Tours – a travel operator specialising in locally-lead group tours and tailor made holidays – starts its list of tips with Myanmar saying that the country is still largely undiscovered and “is perfect for those seeking an adventure that’s truly off the beaten path.

It then suggests Nepal, which has rebuilt itself after the 2015 earthquake. Home to ten UNESCO World Heritage sites, the company says that Nepal is “bursting at the seams with cultural and natural wonders.”

ruska time in Finland

changing colours in Finland’s ruska. the country appears on just one list

Colombia in South America, the company says is “back on the map and the vibrant country is now enjoying a renaissance with travellers flocking there to enjoy its eclectic culture, outdoor adventure and mysterious ruins.

Its third choice is Finland which celebrates 100 years of independence at the end of the year. There are jubilee events throughout the year and that coupled with the appeal of Lapland, its cultural heritage and the ease with which Britons can get there suggests that it could be a bumper year for the country.

On the Go’s final choice is South Korea. In April the country opens the Skygarden, an overpass that has been transformed into a public space full of local plants and flowers, as well as cafes, street markets, libraries and greenhouses. It will coincide with cherry blossom time making late spring an ideal time to visit.

Responsible Travel, the online travel agent says that travel in 2017 will be driven by an increasingly polarised tourism industry. It thinks that the Brexit and the Trump effect will mean there will be two groups of people, those dominated by a climate of fear and mistrust of strangers and the other trailing a growing trend for authentic and intrepid experiences.

The first group will opt for “safe” holidays avoiding places like Tunisia and Turkey whilst the second group will continue seeking what it calls, “authentic, intrepid experiences as travellers become more driven by the “experience economy.”

panoramic view of Dubrovnik

Croatia appears just once as well. This is Dubrovnik

Its list of hot spots is headed by Croatia because it “offers an abundance of locally sourced fresh food, delicious locally-produced wine and a warm welcome from local people keen to embrace tourism as the country recovers from the civil war of the 1990s.”

Like some other tour operators, it also plumps for Iran and follows this with Norway but here, rather than drawing attention to the fjords, it rates whale watching and winter holidays away from the ski slopes as its bets for 2017.

Unlike other companies it also suggests places not to go. Top of the list is the USA, its reasoning being that “a combination of Trump and the effect of Brexit on the strength of the pound means that the US is not the destination of choice for responsible travellers in 2017.”

The other place it suggests avoiding may surprise some as this country only began developing tourism in the last few years. Responsible Travel says avoid Myanmar (Burma) because demand has driven up prices making it no longer a cheap destination. It suggests avoiding the country until the infrastructure catches up with visitor numbers.

Travelzoo, a company that trawls for the best deals in travel and hospitality, has also published its tips for 2017. At the top of the list is Colombia which it calls, “you’ll find dreamy Colonial cities, Amazonian rainforest and sprawling coastline, all rocking to an irresistible cumbia rhythm.” Now that a peace agreement has been signed with FARC, it suggests you go there as soon as possible before prices rise.

Malaysia is second on its list, not for any anniversaries but because Travelzoo says that it offers holidays at some of the cheapest prices in South East Asia that the company has seen.

Whilst its third choice – the Douro Valley in Portugal – will not be as inexpensive as Malaysia, it suggests that “ rural quintas and wineries are still relatively untouched by mass tourism. And now’s the time to go; a 5.4km tunnel that opened last May has made access much easier, while TAP Portugal is set to increase the number of flights from Gatwick to Porto (the closest airport) this winter.”

Poland has direct flight links with over ten cities in the UK making it one of the easiest countries for us to get to. Travelzoo suggests that the Baltic coastline is the place to go “it’s cheap, beautiful and a side of the country you’ve never seen before. “

panorama of Nepalese countryside

but Nepal appears on a few lists this year

It also suggests Nepal and South Africa, two countries that have appeared on other companies lists of tips. Pointing out that you don’t need to be an athlete to walk in Nepal it suggests the country is on the list because of its “Hindu and Buddhist temples, mountainous treks, wildlife tours and much more… plus low prices for food and accommodation.” South Africa is on the list because of the pound/rand exchange rate making it good value.

Greenland appears not because of prices but because it remains one of the remotest places and one which is comparatively close to us. As hiking becomes more and more popular, Travelzoo thinks that Greenland will attract more and more interest.

Much closer to home are the Scottish Highlands which, the company suggests, is the “UK’s best-kept secret” although other tourist destinations would disagree. It says that the opening of the North Coast 500 – a round trip marked route starting from Inverness – will attract visitors as will the area generally partially due to rising prices for overseas holidays.

panoramic view of Ljubjlana

Ljubljana – cpaital of Slovenia,a popular short break destinationmakes the list this year

Slovenia might argue that it is one of the most overlooked holiday destinations in Europe. Demand has been rising so extra flights from Gatwick have been added. As the company says, “With fairy-tale castles, ski resorts, Lake Bled, hot springs and mighty mountains, Slovenia is a picture-postcard destination.”

Its final choice is another that has appeared on other lists – Sri Lanka. Not yet a “typical” holiday destination for Brits the company says, the improvement in roads has made it easier to get around to see “beautiful beaches, friendly locals, world heritage sites and, of course, plenty of wildlife for you to spot on your travels.“

Trailfinders, the tour operator has picked the brains of their travel consultants and has come up with seven destinations, some of which will already be familiar to you.

They start with Nepal now that it has recovered from the earthquake and all trekking regions are open again. In their words, “there can be few places on earth offering such epic scenery, welcoming culture and exotic wildlife.

Their second choice is Uluru (still known to many as Ayres Rock) in central Australia. The reason is the Field of Light, an art installation where 50,000 glass spheres come to light as darkness falls giving a completely different view to the normal one. The installation will only remain until the end of March 2018.

For a beach destination without the crowds, the Philippines appears on the list but for those who prefer cruising it nominates St Petersburg and the Baltic area. Because cruises start in the UK it is easier for many people and arriving by cruise ship means you don’t have to go the expense and time of getting a Russian visa.

an image of Brtish Columbia

as does Canada. This is British Columbia,

It recommends Canada not so much for the anniversary in 2017 but because more people are  appreciating the beauty of the place and the mix of cultures, French, British and the indigenous ones.  They say “It’s also a wildlife lover’s dream, with bears, eagles, whales and even orca occupying the vast forests and surrounding seas.”

Like other tour operators they are expecting interest in Chile to grow due to the new British Airways flight. Finally, they recommend Japan because, with its bullet trains, they say it is quick and easy to explore for those who only have a short holiday.

The Silicon Valley company, Trip.com (which used to be known as Gogobot) has a list of rising stars for 2017. Unlike many others in this series of tips, these aren’t necessarily linked by anniversaries or new flights.  Take its top choice – Adelaide in South Australia. It says that it is “the front door of South Australia’s magical nature, the wines of the Barossa Valley, plays host to the Adelaide Festival and Fringe Festival, is studded with great restaurants … and has a ‘Kangaroo Island’ (pristine nature reserve where you can observe the cuddly (looking) wildlife” It scores 4.5 stars as do the following six destinations.

Its second choice is Cuba which it suggests you visit because you can. We in Europe have been holidaying there for years so you can see that Trip.com’s tips are levelled at an American audience rather than one worldwide.

But its third choice – Medellin in Columbia – is one that has been up-and-coming for some time. Once known for its violence,  it “has a number of beautiful museums including the Botero, its weather is great and there is plenty of fun nightlife.”

South Padre Island is in Texas and sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico. The appeal is exploring the sealife, lounging on the beach or skydiving. But, as Trip.com points out, this is a popular destination for school spring break which is a time that should be avoided at all costs! On the other hand, the next destination has never heard of spring breaks. Malta, it claims,  “might just be the hipster Mediterranean island nation you always dreamed of” whilst its next choice, Bath, is “a perfect destination for anyone feeling like they need a dose of Jane Austen dipped in a Roman bath and studded with young creatives.”

Tblisi - the capital of Georgia.. This is one of baths where there are hot, sulphuric springs

Tblisi – the capital of Georgia.. This is one of baths where there are hot, sulphuric springs

Its final choice is the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. It says that “Tripsters love how off-the-beaten path it feels, and how friendly the locals are.” I would add that the city is changing at a frenetic pace as it charges into becoming a must-see tourist destination. It is four years since I was last there and I am told by people who have been there recently that the change has been so great in places that I wouldn’t recognise parts of the capital.

The American based Virtuoso, a global network of luxury travel agencies, offers five must-have travels in 2017. It advises travellers to head for destinations that are changing rapidly or even disappearing. Cuba tops the list as both an emerging destination and one in danger of losing its distinctive character. The Arctic is another must-see, with melting glaciers impacting the region’s unique wildlife.

It says that, as adventure travel increases, people should seek out active journeys such as an African safari, swimming with whale sharks in Mexico or Australia, or hiking the Swiss Alps. It recommends splurging on holiday by hiring a personal guide or – and not many of us will do this – board a private jet for an unforgettable round-the-world journey.

map of New Zealand

and New Zealand appears on more than one list

More likely is that we will follow the next suggestion which is to savour the flavours and eat like a local. Their advice? Take a cooking class, peruse the markets, hunt for truffles, dine at a world-class restaurant or opt for a private, in-home dining experience.

Its final general suggestion is to take a cruise “that matches your preferences and personality.”

From its report it says that the top five emerging destinations are Cuba, Iceland, Croatia, South Africa and Japan whilst its top five adventure destinations are South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, New Zealand and it has a tie between Peru and Iceland.

In the list of endangered or changing destinations it lists Cuba, the Antarctic, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Venice and the Arctic as its top five. Being American based, as I mentioned earlier, it has a top five list in the US which is New York, the Hawaiian island of Maui, Napa Valley and Sonoma in California, Las Vegas and Miami. For a global top five it lists Italy, South Africa, France, Iceland and Australia. For a family destination it picks Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando and England

We’ll run a summary in January and any updates or new lists that we receive.

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