Last updated: 03:03 PM ET, Sat December 26 2015

Americas Outlook 2016: The Biggest Stories For The Year Ahead

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | December 26, 2015

Americas Outlook 2016: The Biggest Stories For The Year Ahead

As 2015 comes to a close, here are the stories we are looking forward to in the coming year.

Record El Nino Wipes Out California Drought

Will the record El Nino eliminate the drought and drop so much rain and snowpack in the West that the drought is declared over? That would be nice, and it could happen, but despite record high temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, most analysts think that the weather system won’t be severe enough to put California completely in the clear. However, it is already making for an epic ski and snowboard season here in the West and will continue to do so through the beginning of 2016.

The Olympic Games in Brazil

Brazil is expecting to see a jump in visitors for 2016 due to the Olympic Games taking place Aug. 5-21. The country is expecting record visitor numbers for the year due, mostly, to the Games. It has waived its tourist visa requirement for four months in the summer — June to August — which will also make it easier for U.S. visitors to enter the country.

Cuba Opens Up for U.S. Travelers

In September, new regulations went into effect that are designed to ease the flow of business between the U.S. and Cuba in several industries, including travel, telecommunications, banking, Internet-based services and business operations in general. As infrastructure begins to take hold in the country, visiting is sure to get easier and easier. While U.S. travelers are still restricted when they visit Cuba, the easing of these restrictions is really setting the field for when the country does open up completely. Hopefully, that is a story that we will be covering in the coming year.

Colombia, Cuba and Iceland Emerge in 2016

USTOA members participated in a survey of coming travel trends and several Western Hemisphere destinations are on the list.  When asked which “emerging” and “off-the-beaten path” destinations would gain popularity in 2016, members named Cuba, followed by Myanmar, Iceland, Colombia, and Ethiopia and Japan (tied for fifth). 

“With Cuba making headlines this year, it’s no surprise that it took the first spot in the list of emerging destinations,” said President and CEO Terry Dale. “About 34 percent of our members currently offer programs to Cuba and, of that number, more than half plan to increase offerings within the next few years.” 

100 Years of National Parks

The National Parks Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016 and they are celebrating with a year’s worth of events. The parks service invites guests to “Find Your Park” in order to find events in parks that are close to your home and allow you to get involved with one of our nation’s biggest treasures.

Wish List: Paris Tourism Rebounds

There are already positive reports that the terrorist attacks have not had too much of an impact on tourism but cancellations are occurring and fewer bookings are being made – and terrorism is not going away. In fact, after experiencing our own attacks here in the U.S., in San Bernardino, Calif., it’s not unlikely to think that this issue will be weighing on the minds of travelers. I hope that this is not the case and that one of the stories that we see, hopefully early on in the year, is that tourism to Paris and to Europe returns to normal.


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