Where To Go Next: 17 Hot Spots for 2017
A romantic spot at Blenheim Castle, the childhood home of Sir Winston Churchill, England
So, where to go next? We’ve chosen some of what we believe will be the 17 for 2017 hot spots.
Of course, we don’t go it alone. Along with the Zoomer picks, we’ve asked some of the industry’s Canadian experts to tell us where their frequent travellers are heading in the new year.
And, although 2016 was a bit of a difficult year, particularly for Europe, Canadians haven’t lost their wanderlust. They’re risk takers, booking far-flung, exotic as much as they are playing it safe with old familiar places, including right here in Canada.
Need another reason to just go? Online hotel booking search engine Booking.com has released its latest study, in which almost half (49%) of people surveyed said a holiday brings them more happiness than their wedding day, while more than half (51%) prefer travelling over going on a date with their partner. That’s what we call Wanderlust winning over, well, just plain lust.
The Get-There-Before-It-Changes Hot Spots
A sense of urgency to get there before the winds of change: Brexit and a still possible Grexit in the making, suggest that the countries that pretty much book-end Europe – the United Kingdom and Greece – and Cuba (ab0ve), opening up to the U.S. market, combined with its bigger beaches/bang for your buck appeal continue to fascinate travellers. The drop in the British pound versus our Canadian dollar makes the UK affordable (sort of) and Greece has never been more inviting to travellers. They just do hospitality right.
This island, known for its all-inclusive resorts and pristine beaches offers a few other reasons to visit, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other island in the Caribbean. Plus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit and the pending open relationship with United States has put Cuba on the map. And, according to Virtuoso, the global network of luxury travel agencies, in its 2017 Virtuoso Luxe Report, Cuba tops the list as both an emerging destination and one in danger of losing its distinctive character. gocuba.ca
The Bucket Listers
We asked Cris David, President of Insight Vacations Canada where his guests are going next. “There are some very clear destination trends for the year, some a continuation of trends we have been seeing and others a little surprising,” he says.
The Zoomer Take: Even though Insight Vacations is a luxury tour company, David’s list includes more wallet-friendly destinations.
Known for its natural wonders, dramatic landscapes and Reykjavik’s up and coming cosmopolitan lifestyle, the sudden, intense surge in demand for this destination that started last year is continuing for 2017. If anything, Iceland is growing in popularity and they are continuing to receive an overwhelming amount of tourist arrivals. But it’s not just Insight or Zoomer that says so. Hotel search engine Booking.com says Reykjavik is the number 1 destination trending globally on the company’s search list. www.visiticeland.com
Spain and Portugal have been very hot in 2016 and they remain among Insight’s most popular destinations. “This year, however, we are seeing the standalone Portugal tour, Country Roads of Portugal, surging ahead as a hot ticket in its own right,” says David. From the sunny beaches of the Algarve to the vineyards of the Douro Valley, travellers are beginning to discover the laid-back charm of the “other” Iberian nation, he adds. Click here for Zoomer travel editor Vivian Vassos’ tour through Lisbon.
The History and the Ancestry
The search for our roots continues to spark an interest in homecomings, while lest we forget is still top of mind. Plus, the year 2017 will see some significant anniversaries, particularly in the European World War sector, in which France will hold the largest part of the spotlight. The First World War battles significant to Canadians include Vimy Ridge (France) and Passchendaele (Belgium); and Dunkirk (France) all hit the 100-year mark; as does the raid at Dieppe (France) during the Second World War. For a cruise trip through World War I history, click here to read our story, Remembrance.
#10. Ireland – and Scotland, too
There is a huge appetite among Canadians to explore these destinations, possibly driven by ancestral connections, says Insight’s David. While Ireland (top of page) has been huge for several years, Scotland (above) is surging big time for 2017, possibly due to the drop in GBP vs CAD and related price decrease. www.ireland.com/en-ca; www.visitscotland.com. To read about Zoomer’s adventures, click on Ireland and Scotland.
The Bigger Bang for Your Buck Bucket List Hot Spots
Bigger bang for your buck continues to trend, as the loonie is trading low against its US counterpart, so South Africa, India (above), and other destinations in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, which recently crowned its new king, and Japan – where Kyoto is trending globally as the number 5 city searched for on hotel search engine Booking.com, are strong contenders for travel dollars. The travel directors at Trafalgar Tours gave us a sneak peek at where their guests are heading in 2017. www.trafalgar.com/can
The Zoomer Take: these destinations have the double appeal of being affordable bucket list destinations; we’ve added a few of our own picks to this list.
#8. South Africa
New for this year is a South African Adventure where families can search for the “Big Five” in Kruger National Park or find fresh tracks left in the sand by a family of lions on a safari. Trafalgar’s South African Adventure is a 13-day exploration through this wild and unique destination.
India is a new destination for Trafalgar in 2017 but is showing to be a popular choice for travellers, says the company. Trafalgar’s first itinerary exploring the riches of India with stays in vibrant cities such as Jaipur and Mumbai and the chance to see how #JoinTrafalgar is helping Delhi’s street children through its support of the Salaam Baalak Trust. Hotel search engine Booking.com says Mumbai, India, is the number 7 destination trending globally on the company’s site. www.incredibleindia.org
#3 Four Cities That Never Sleep
Yes, we know that’s more than one destination, but when it comes to these great places, who can really pick a favourite? We’re looking to rekindle romance in Paris. We’ll always have Paris – and London and Rome and New York, too. These cities never lose their lustre, and 2017 will see us seeking them out again, and worth the splurge, so we’ve given them their own special treatment on our Top 17.
Paris, because, well, it’s Paris. Trafalgar global CEO Gavin Tollman shared a personal story on the City of Light: “Last year, by happenstance, we were in Paris on Friday 13th November, the night that the lights of Paris dimmed, as terror struck the heart of the city of love,” he wrote on a recent blog post. “It was a time that touched us all with a poignancy that has become a part of us. For us, having shared this impactful experience, it was more important than ever that we returned, one year on. It has, and always will be, the world’s most romantic city. And as I found once more, my passion for Paris remains resolute. Paris is a genuine canvas of natural richness of culture, art, life. Now, is the time to visit Paris. We must all play our part in rebuilding confidence in France as one of the world’s favourite destinations. I say this not in words, but action, for besides this trip, The Travel Corporation is proud to be overtly showing its faith in Paris, hosting two significant events in 2017 in the city, including in March 2017 – UNIWORLD Boutique River Cruise’s launch of its new supership, the Joie de Vivre (www.uniworld.com/en/ships/ss-joie-de-vivre/); ca.france.fr. Read here to get our Canadian in Paris‘ view.
Closer to Home
#2 The United States, especially southern destinations such as Tennessee, Texas (Dallas, above) and California.
Closer to home, the southern United States, particularly music-culturally-rich places such as Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas, as well as North Carolina and Northern California – it’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love – is a big draw for those who love their tunes. And, the year 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley – and his fans will no doubt be marking it with a celebration of his life. Cosmos value-based escorted tours, is again offering its sellout Elvis & the Southern Sounds tour, an 8-day musical excursion that will take you from Memphis to Nashville. There are 16 departures of the tour next year, including a special 40th Anniversary Memorial Tour departing August 12 which includes a candlelight, graveside vigil at Graceland. visit www.cosmosvacations.ca; call 1-800-268-3636 or see your travel agent. To read about deputy editor Kim Izzo’s adventures in Nashville, click here.