5 hot travel trends for 2016
Thursday, February 04, 2016
If you are planning your travel calendar for 2016, here are some interesting points to note. Travel is going to be easier with more apps to ease the way. Of course, that will not come as a surprise for most of us.
We can also expect a lot more convergence in the industry as a whole with travel agents and hotels gearing up for partnerships. With Uber and Airbnb leading the way, this too is a definite reality for the near future.
What is surprising, however, are the destinations that have topped the travel trend lists this year. It is the not typical sunny beaches and exotic Latin American destinations that are going to draw the crowds in, it seems.
1. Arctic lure
A recurring theme in most of the top travel lists this year is the Arctic. More people are shunning the sunny locales for the Northern Lights and the stark beauty of the Arctic. Travel agents are already seeing a growing interest in countries like Greenland, Iceland, Norway and other Scandinavian countries.
The extreme climate is no longer a deterrent, rather an intriguing prospect for the new generation of more daring travelers. They want to explore these isolated lands and beyond, soaking up sensory stimulants like the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). The geothermal Blue Lagoon Spa and the adventure ice cave "Into the Glacier" in Iceland, the upcoming international Arctic Winter Games in Greenland, and sailing trips from the Norwegian Svalbard to Greenland are just a few attractions to start with.
Seeing polar bears, bearded seals and bowhead and beluga whales up close promise to be experiences of a lifetime as well. No one explains the lure of Iceland than Viggo Mortensen.
2. African dream
This year, Africa has emerged as the continent of interest, pushing aside its more colorful competitor, South America, from the previous years. Botswana topped the list in Lonely Planet, which is enough to garner more than enough interest in the continent, not just the country.
Invigoratingly wild, Botswana epitomizes one of the best success stories of our age. Its journey from being a poverty-stricken and unstable country to becoming one of the most stable, progressive, enlightened, democratic and thriving countries of Africa is amazing indeed. But what awes visitors is its stark natural beauty and the way it has preserved its natural riches.
Other places that will be attracting more visitors this year include Madagascar with its 106 species of lemurs and rich flora and fauna that accounts for 5 percent of the world's biodiversity. The raw beauty of the country holds tropical rainforests, exotic sun-soaked beaches and also semi-arid desert canyons.
Then there is Uganda with its crater lakes, thundering waterfalls, white-sand beaches on lake islands, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and national parks. Along with the silverback mountain gorilla on a wildlife safari, one can also count on the unforgettable experience of crossing the equator by boat, slicing through Lake Victoria.
A lesser-known attraction that is all set to become a rage is the tiny West African country called Gabon. Straddling the equator, it is aimed at becoming a hot ecotourism destination for the future since its national parks, dense jungles, remote beaches, undisturbed wildlife and swathes of marine reserve off the coast makeup 10 percent of its landmass.
The cosmopolitan South Africa is once again on the radar as well, offering both adventure and relaxation for travelers.
3. Oriental magic
Japan ranked second in Lonely Planet's Top 10 list for 2016. Known for its quintessential old and new world blend, it also ranks high in the seamless blend of East and West. The land of the rising sun will host the Summer Olympics in 2020, and Tokyo is therefore witnessing a surge in new infrastructural projects that promise finer developments ahead. Japan's natural beauty blends with its rich cultural heritage to offer something for everyone.
The affluent city of Hangzhou in China is witnessing a lot of interest as well. The natural beauty of West Lake blends in well with the hyper-modern and luxury feel, which is attracting the affluent crowd from across the world.
Another place that has been witnessing a slow and steady rise in visitor footfalls is the mystical Mongolia. Its stark natural beauty and impressive history is enticing indeed, more so for an increasing number of motorcycle riders who want to traverse this isolated land on their own. Taiwan with its upcoming and impressive modern industries, rich culture and heritage, trendy designer markets and beautiful natural vistas is the next hot new destination.
4. Down Under once more
Ranking sixth in the Lonely Planet list, Australia is showing a marked resurgence in international traveler footfalls. The Aussie dollar faltering is not exactly good news, but for international travelers it marks the perfect time to visit Down Under.
From Tasmania's pristine wilderness, the great Outback and the indomitable Great Barrier Reef, to the sophisticated, cosmopolitan and world-class cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Australia appeals to visitors from the world over. With fuel prices running low, this might a good time to plan a road trip across this amazing continent/country, too.
5. Sun and sand close by
A closer look at home will show Americans gearing up for two major destinations this year, Cuba and Hawaii.
With relaxed trade embargoes and increased travel-tourism agreements between the United States and Cuba, the latter country is all set to entice travelers this year. The U.S Tour Operators Association has named Cuba as its top emerging and off-the-beaten-path destination as travel rules relax in future.
The Hawaiian lure is nothing new, but there seems to a resurgence of interest in the islands. Maui, Lanai and Kauai are all ranking high in searches as travel agents also confirm growing interest. The 75th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack will likely pull in a lot of visitors as will the two active volcanoes and national parks, the colorful lush rainforests and of course the mindboggling crystal blue beaches.
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