What’s hot in 2017 – according to the travel industry part 2

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
bir's eye view of the Great Ocean Road

the Great Ocean Road

Advice and tips from tour operators on where to holiday in 2017 are still arriving so the list today is compiled from those received before Christmas. In alphabetical order, first come the tips from Audley Travel, a company providing tailor-made holidays rather than off the shelf ones.

The launch of the direct British Airways flight to the Chilean capital, Santiago, in January opens up Chile and Audley Travel suggests one area in particular, Chiloe Island, should be on your itinerary. Why? Because it possesses a unique culture it being the last retreat for the Mapuche Indians from the Spanish. It has a very different feel to the rest of Chile with a spiritual culture based on a distinctive mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest gnomes. The food is quite different too with the use of earth ovens and extensive use of shellfish and of the different potatoes varieties on offer.

Audley’s next choice is a route that is well-known, the Great Ocean Road in Australia. However its coastal walking path is far less known and reveals a different view of the scenery. With permits for less than 900 walkers a year and only 10 in a group at one time, the walk provides, in Audley’s words, “a far more intimate way to get to know this remarkable region.”

A wine region – or at least a less well-known one in South Africa – is the next tip from Audley. Hermanus, normally better known for whale watching, sits at the end of the Hemel en Aarde Valley which stretches from the ocean to the mountains and has vineyards high on the mountain ridges.

new Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

For a family adventure, the company suggests Florida but not the Orlando that most Britons would know. It suggests a tour going out to Dry Tortugas National Park to explore Fort Jefferson where the fort is not the only attraction. Dolphins will liven up any snorkelling stay as well.  After this drive up the Florida Keys to Islamorada (great for cycling) and taking a kayaking tour in the Everglades National Park (see the flora and ,fauna as well as alligators!) Audley suggests a drive to Naples before heading to Anna Maria Island,then on to Cocoa Beach and finally finishing up at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

The final tip from Audley is New Orleans. In late March, British Airways start a direct flight to this fun-loving city. If you think New York never sleeps, I can vouch that nor does New Orleans.

Citalia is a specialist Italian holiday company so, naturally, you would expect its tips to be focused on that region. In no particular order it suggests Basilicata in Puglia which is home to ancient cave settlements known as ‘sassi’. For those seeking beach destinations it tips Calabria with its 500 miles of coastline– popular with Italians but not Brits.

Florence has been popular with Brits since the time of the grand tours and, consequently, it can get crowded with tourists. As an alternative, Citalia suggests Turin which not only offers architecture and heritage as lures but also has a thriving foodie culture.  As a city break, Genoa is a recommendation as it has a marine history stretching back centuries but, today, it is the shopping and dining that makes it a rival to the much busier city of Milan.

As Sardinia becomes more and more popular with both Italians and Brits, Citalia suggests the coast of Emilia Romagna on the Adriatic Riviera. Choose either Rimini if you want a big town atmosphere or Riccione if you prefer a smaller, quieter, family-friendly location.

Incredible India as the tourist board sees it

Incredible India as the tourist board sees it

The Lido de Jesolo on the Venetian Riviera is a seaside alternative to places like the Lido near Venice. Being further away and having a large waterpark makes it attractive for Italians but for Britons it isn’t that widely known. Citalia suggest it as a base for a multi-centre holiday as you can travel by boat to Venice in an hour.

Established in 1758, Cox & Kings says that it has been making predictions about travel longer than most. This year it notes that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and with a Russian tour being the most popular of the company’s it thinks that Russia will be a popular destination.

Like Audley Travel, Cox & Kings highlights the fact that British Airways will have a direct flight to Chile starting in January so the number of British visitors will rise as they take advantage of the service.

Staying with anniversaries, the company’s third choice will also celebrate one. The 70th anniversary of India’s independence should lead to an increase in demand for travel to India the company says. Linked with a second series of the BBC’s Real Exotic Marigold Hotel, set to run early in the 2017, and India should be a popular spot to visit. After the last series of the television programme, Cox & Kings noticed an interest in longer stays in traditional havelis (former merchant houses) and they predict a similar impact again.

The fourth choice is one that both Cox & Kings as well as Just about Travel tipped for 2016 – Iran. Demand for tours there was “remarkable” to use the company’s words and it proved popular. With a direct flight introduced by British Airways just three months ago, interest in Iran should remain high.

Petra in Jordan

Petra in Jordan

Its final choice is Jordan. Seeing a rise in bookings, it is harder to link this upsurge in either new flights or a television series. Could it be due to the opening of the Jordan Trail or the finding of the huge monument under Petra that will be excavated over the next few years?

The travel agency, Flight Centre, a recent entry to the UK travel market (but then what isn’t compared to Cox & Kings) has nominated five destinations on its 2017 hotlist.

Top is Canada because of the 150th anniversary this year but Flight Centre singles out the Canadian capital of Ottawa which it says, “will be the epicentre of the nation’s celebrations, hosting an array of festivities including world skating competitions down the Rideau Canal, a communal picnic on Alexandra Bridge and a fireworks display on Parliament Hill.”

The city known as the “Big Easy” – New Orleans – is its second choice. It is all due to the new British Airways direct service starting in March giving the city the first direct link with the UK. Prior to this, British travellers have always had to change elsewhere in the US and take a connecting flight. Given that there are few international flights to New Orleans (largely from Canada and Mexico) it means that passengers should have short customs and immigration queues to go through.

South Africa is selected by the company because the rand is likely to be good value against sterling making it one of the few destinations where Britons might not feel the pinch so much. The new direct service from Gatwick by BA to Cape Town will stimulate interest as well.

tea plantations in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan tea plantations

Bermuda might be a surprise to some people since it is sometimes seen as a luxury destination, unavailable to many but there is a direct service from Gatwick. Despite being a British overseas territory, the Bermudan dollar is pegged to the US one you won’t buy as much as you could have done a year ago. The attraction of Bermuda in 2017 is that it hosts the America’s Cup for the first time.  This historic sailing competition is likely to draw in  visitors looking to discover the island’s crystal clear waters and pink sandy beaches as well as to attend one of the world’s top sailing events.

Flight Centre’s final choice is Sri Lanka which, it says, “remains one of the best-value long haul destinations.” The country also benefits from having a combination of attractions in  a relatively small area making it possible for visitors to enjoy “tea plantations, pristine beaches and national parks fit for a safari” all in the one holiday.

Headwater is a travel company, one specialising in catering for walkers and cyclists. It says that Transylvania in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania is top of its bucket list for 2017. The reason is that the company says “this beautifully unspoilt region boasts fairytale castles, elegant palaces, lost-in-time villages, incredible flora and wildlife and a culturally rich and fascinating history.”

Its second tip, the fjords of western Norway are selected because the area includes the art-nouveau waterside town of Alesund, Hjorundfjord, (one of the longest fjords in Norway,) Jostedalsbreen (the largest glacier in Europe,) and the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord with its “Seven Sisters” tumbling waterfalls.

Another UNESCO listed area, Camino de Santiago and one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in the world is its third choice. It attracts walkers from around the world and the company says that this leads to “a real sense of shared camaraderie and personal achievement” which makes it unlike many other walks that people undertake.

Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus

Aphrodite Rock near Paphos in Cyprus

Headwater’s final choice is the Bavaria region of Germany which it rates as a tour for cyclists. Saying that much of Bavaria is largely unspoilt, cycle tracks follow “a network of beautiful rivers, fairytale castles, stunning walled hamlets and historic towns and villages.”

The ITC Luxury Travel Group owns a variety of well-known brands such as Western & Oriental, Regent, Rainbow Tours, ITC Sport Travel and Villa Select. Its tips for 2017 are backed by reasoning as to why they should be of more appeal than at other times.

Number one on its list is Paphos in Cyprus, a destination that hasn’t featured on few if any lists in the recent past. As European Capital of Culture for 2017, the city plans to turn itself into “an Open-Air Factory of Culture, incorporating its parks, beaches and archaeological sites as venues.”  It helps that it is known as the as the birthplace of Aphrodite and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its second choice is Keulap in the north of Peru which has been described as the ‘alternative Machu Picchu.’ It isn’t the easiest place to get to but the new cable car will save at least 90 minutes and make the site accessible to a wider audience.

Third comes Canada which, this year, celebrates 150 years since its Confederation and has events and celebrations planned country-wide and throughout the year.

St Petersburg in Russia

St Petersburg in Russia

It will be 100 years since the Tsarist regime was overthrown in the Russian Revolution. Already a popular destination for culture and heritage fans, bookings have already increased in readiness for the events planned by the Russian government making the country number four on ITC’s list.

It joins two other companies in putting Chile on a hot spots list as a result of the new BA direct flight. Within Chile, though, it highlights Puerto Natales the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Being able to connect and fly there (instead of Punto Arenas) will cut down the road transfer time to the park by about three hours.

One of the most famous museums in the world is the Louvre. Who hasn’t heard of it but have you heard of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi? Opening this year and with the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum (a collaboration with the British Museum) also planned for the future, ITC says that “the opening of the Louvre will be the start of Abu Dhabi’s new cultural identity.”

Finally it offers New Zealand because, this year , the British and Irish Lions travel there to play the All Blacks in June and July and that always generates interest and much more if the Lions can beat them!

The tips continues tomorrow

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