Staff Picks: Global Destinations That Got It Right in 2015
When it comes to international travel, there are some heavyweights that dominate the destination to-do list, and for good reason. But there have also been a number of up-and-comers that have forced their way on to travel itineraries through focused investments and savvy marketing.
Here are the destinations that TravelPulse writers were most impressed with in 2015.
ROBIN AMSTER, Senior Writer, Travel Agents, Host Agencies and Consortia
Great Britain has been a traditional tourism powerhouse for American travelers. Euromonitor ranked it third, behind Mexico and Canada, for U.S. visitors in 2015. Virtuoso’s luxury advisors ranked it second behind Italy.
Great Britain’s allure for Americans — aside from its varied destinations, natural beauty and world-class culture—is a comfort level in terms of language and heritage.
A new report from the (admittedly biased) VisitBritain national tourism agency reports that the percentage of international visitors who feel “extremely welcome” in Great Britain has more than doubled in the last five years.
THERESA MASEK, Editor-in-Chief, Vacation Agent and Agent@Home magazines
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: I visited the Galapagos Islands for the first time this year and was amazed at the wildlife — specifically that the wildlife showed absolutely no fear. The birds and animals would look you in the eye, but not run away.
Why is that? Because of the very strict controls and regulations imposed by the Galapagos National Park and Ecuadorian government to protect the wildlife. There is stringent enforcement that shows no signs of lessening, which means these isolated but wildlife-rich islands will remain desirable tourism into the future.
JANEEN CHRISTOFF, Senior Writer, Western Hemisphere Destinations
Paris is one of the most-visited destinations in the world. It is known for its romantic setting, its fabulous food, its luxurious shopping and its spectacular wine, among a long list of accolades that continue to inspire people to travel to the city. So when Paris was struck not once, but twice, by violent extremists, the world reacted with an outpouring of love and support – and the country did the same. Rather than shying away from exposure in the media, members of its tourism community continued to promote its plans for 2016.
After the first incident, tourism took a hit, but bounced back swiftly.
But in the wake of a second attack on Nov. 13 in which more than 100 people lost their lives, tourism seems to be taking a bigger hit. However, Paris, and France’s tourism representatives, Atout France, has continued to work hard to promote the city, the country and overcome the stigma of violence.
Members of the Atout France tourism development agency still did a planned media tour, which began days after the attack. Tourist officials thought about canceling but didn’t want to send the wrong message to tourists.
“We thought it would be best to show something positive,” said Marion Fourestier, the New York-based communications director for Atout France.
Most recently, a giant social media movement has been launched to promote the city of Paris in an effort to stem the tide of cancellations and to alleviate global unease about the destination. The #ParisWeLoveYou campaign is a way that people can show their solidarity with the citizens of the city. It has numerous big name ambassadors, including travel organizations such as Accor Hotels, Aeroports de Paris, AirFrance, Atout France, Booking.com, the Paris tourist board, SNCF and big name brands like L’Oreal, Clarins, Chloe and many more.
This movement is just one of many that is aimed at drawing tourism back to the city and the country as a whole. France’s reaction in the wake of these attacks is a shining example of how we can fight terrorism by showing resilience.
GABE ZALDIVAR, Senior Writer, Business Travel, Gear and Tech
I had the great fortune of being able to take in the Los Cabos area of Mexico just a year removed from the devastating Hurricane Odile that ravaged much of the resort destination.
While I stayed at the gorgeous and rejuvenated Hilton Los Cabos, I was also able to tour a sizable portion of the outlaying area including the art district as well as a couple of restaurants in the area.
From hotel to souvenir shop, the entire area is as welcoming and warming as one that you could possibly hope to find.
A year after such devastation, it’s remarkable to see such vitality, which turns out to be surprisingly infectious.
JOSH LEW, Senior Writer, Airlines and Air Travel
Mozambique is an up-and-coming destination. It still gets overshadowed by its user-friendly neighbors, Tanzania, South Africa and Botswana. However, instead of opting for quick development, the country is first looking to hone its offerings by seeking out beneficial development projects, improving the attractions that it already has, and making sure that everyone in the hospitality and tourism sectors has enough training.
This slow-and-steady approach will create a base of quality that should help the country's tourism industry thrive in the long run. As long as peace and stability remain, there is no reason that Mozambique cannot become one of Africa's biggest destinations in the next couple of decades.
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