by Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, February 18, 2015
Annual report lists Ethiopia among emerging destinations, while bookings for Cuba rise and trips to Malaysia prove less popular.
Ethiopia has been tipped to become a popular holiday destination in the coming years by one of Europe’s biggest long-haul tour operators.
|photo by Furyk|
The East African country, which suffered a series of famines in the 1980s but can boast some of the continent’s most dramatic landscapes, has been included among a list of emerging destinations in Kuoni’s annual travel trends report.
Around 20,000 Britons visit Ethiopia each year, according to the Foreign Office, but that could increase with Kuoni offering trips there for the first time.
The country’s highlights include the monolithic rock-hewn churches at Lalibela ; the Simien Mountains National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is home to a number of endangered species, including Ethiopian wolf and walia ibex; and the otherworldly Danakil Depression, with its colourful sulphur and salt lakes.
Trips to see the tribal communities of the Omo Valley are another, though some believe they are exploitative. In 2013, Exodus, an operator specialising in activity and adventure travel, announced it would no longer offer such tours .
Parts of the Ethiopia are off-limits, however. The Foreign Office advises against all travel to within 10km of the borders with Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Eritrea, and to larger parts of the country's north-eastern and south-eastern regions.
Kuoni’s trips feature Lalibela, the low-key capital Addis Ababa, the towns of Gondar and Bahir Dar, the Bale Mountains National Park and the Simien Mountains National Park.
Other emerging destinations listed by Kuoni included the Philippines, following the recent launch of direct flights from London to Manila, La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, and Sri Lanka 's east coast.
The tour operator’s annual report also highlighted those countries which have grown in popularity over the last year – and those which have fallen from favour.
Bookings for Brazil have risen 58 per cent, year-on-year, with the World Cup said to be behind the trend. A further rise is expected as Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Malaysia, on the other hand, is proving less popular, with the two Malaysia Airlines disasters believed to be behind the fall in booking.
George Clooney’s marriage to Amal Alamuddin in Venice appears to have inspired holidaymakers – inquiries for weddings and honeymoons in Italy have increased 20 per cent since the ceremony in September.
Overall, the Maldives is Kuoni’s most popular destination for 2015, based on sales until the end of January. It is the 10th year running the islands have topped the list.
The UAE has risen to third, behind Thailand, while Cuba has jumped to seventh, its highest ever ranking, with travellers apparently keen to see the country before improved relations with the US affect its undeveloped charm.
Kuoni's top 20 destinations for 2015
1. Maldives (2014 position: 1)
2. Thailand (2)
3. UAE (3)
4. Sri Lanka (4)
5. USA (6)
6. Mauritius (5)
7. Cuba (10)
8. Antigua (12)
9. Singapore (13)
10. Barbados (8)
11. St Lucia (11)
12. Mexico (16)
13. Vietnam (14)
14. Italy (-)
15. Indonesia (15)
16. Malaysia (9)
17. Australia (24)
18. India (18)
19. Hong Kong (25)
20. Switzerland (17)
This article was written by Oliver Smith from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.