Wondering what’s hot in travel this year? Are you searching for a getaway that will re-energize your spirits after the inevitable winter doldrums?
Every January, industry stakeholders and pundits forecast where and how Americans will travel over the coming year. Of course, economic downturns, political upheavals, and extreme weather can upend predictions in an instant, but these five destinations are ones that experts predict will be hot in 2017:
Last December, Travel and Leisure magazine named Portugal its 2016 Destination of the Year (http://www.travelandleisure.com/destination-of-the-year/portugal). “The nation’s bounceback has long been underway, but the past couple of years seem to have been a turning point, and the data proves it,” writes T+ L editor Nathan Lump. Lump points to the country’s 10 percent growth in foreign tourism, the opening of 40 new hotels, and exponential increase in flight capacity (with nonstop flights now available from eight U.S. cites). Compared to other European countries, however, Portugal still remains relatively affordable, politically stable, devoid of large crowds and queues, and has a distinct language and culture. The country is a favorite for culinary travelers; wine-lovers; active travelers who like to hike, bicycle and surf; and laid-back travelers who simply want to relax on its coastal beaches or cruise the Douro River while sipping Port wine.
Learn more: VisitPortugal, Official Tourism Website (https://www.visitportugal.com/en)
Almost a decade after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) is experiencing a tourism renaissance. According to a research group JW Intelligence (part of J. Walter Thompson) (file:///Users/irene/Desktop/JWT_F100_2017.pdf) New Orleans had the largest growth spurt in international travelers of any city in the U.S. last year. Another accolade: As part of its Reader’s Choice Awards, Conde Nast named New Orleans the fifth best city in America. The Big Easy offers visitors a vibrant blend of history, culture and culinary riches. In addition to Mardi Gras season, a perennial visitor favorite, two brand new beverage events are on tap: The New Orleans Bourbon Festival and The Bloody Mary Festival. New Orleans is also a mecca for music lovers. After an $8 million renovation, the Historic Carver Theater will be adding weekly jazz, brass and blues concerts to its programming.
Learn more: New Orleans Official Tourism Site (http://www.neworleansonline.com/)
Canada offers a mix of sophisticated city experiences complemented by vast regions of wilderness that appeal to adventure travelers and those who love nature and the outdoors. Travel meta-search engine, Cheapflights (http://www.cheapflights.com/news/2017-travel-trends/), predicts that our neighbor to the north will draw an onslaught of tourists during its 150th anniversary this year. To commemorate this historic occasion, the Canadian government will be staging 150 celebrations and events at locations across the country – made all the more attractive by the favorable exchange rate of the dollar to the loonie.
Learn more: Official Canada 150 website (http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1468854891549)
After President Obama lifted travel restrictions, travel to Cuba increased 148% over the previous year according to Squaremouth.com (https://www.squaremouth.com), a comparison engine for travel insurance. Unless circumstances change via the stroke of a Presidential pen, interest in Cuba is likely to increase as more airlines and cruise lines make it easier to visit. (Americans are still limited to visits consistent with 12 licenses outlined by the U.S. Department of Treasury (https://cu.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/traveling-to-cuba/).) Visitors report falling in love with the culture, art and music that still feel authentic – and with the incredible warmth of the Cuban people.
Learn more: Traveling to Cuba (https://cu.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/traveling-to-cuba/)
It shouldn't be surprising that Italy is on our short list. Whether it’s for a honeymoon, road trip, food tour, faith tourism, visit to a destination spa or villa vacation, Italy is a perennial favorite. It offers something for everyone, a country that never loses its luster and romance. This year, the United States Tourism Association (USTOA) (https://www.ustoa.com/press-releases/2017-survey-results) named Italy second on its list of hot destinations (right after Cuba). Of course, historic cultural meccas like Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan still remain the most visited cities but tourists are discovering less-traveled regions that are more affordable and easier to navigate such as Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Puglia and Umbria.
Learn more: Discover Italy Official Tourism Website (http://www.italia.it/en/home.html)
Where will you be headed in 2017?