Whether it’s a new cruise port or an off-the-beaten path getaway, we’re always looking for the latest up-and-coming travel experience to share with your clients. As part of our semi-annual Emerging Destinations feature, we’ve decided to reach out to poll our readers on this year’s most buzzworthy destinations.
Below are details on the nominations for this year’s Emerging Destinations, as submitted by our editorial team. To vote on your favorites, head over to our Facebook page and complete the poll. Winning destinations will be featured in the cover story of the November 4 issue of Travel Agent magazine.
While the Mediterranean has become highly popular with Americans, the Black Sea is a bit less well frequented. Increasingly, though, cruise lines are eyeing this region and adding Black Sea voyages on future schedules. Television coverage of the upcoming Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics should create more interest.
Numerous hotels are expanding throughout the country—not just in Istanbul, but in smaller cities like Izmir. The nation seems to be returning to its position as the crossroads of East and West, and is making the most of its role.
As Europe's Capital of Culture this year, Marseilles saw a boost in tourism and a new Intercontinental hotel.
Douro River, Portugal
If your clients have “been there, done that” on the Rhine, Seine or Danube, but still want a European river cruise, what might you suggest? One option is the Douro River in the Iberian Peninsula, where clients enjoy the region’s Port Wine culture, small towns, quaint villages, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and Portuguese and Spanish destinations.
St. Croix, U.S.V.I.
While St. Croix certainly isn’t a new cruise destination, it’s definitely a re-emerging one. After several years of little or no activity from the cruise industry for a variety of factors, such contemporary lines as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International have returned. The latest news? Several upper premium or luxury lines plan port calls in 2015.
Martinique has been poised to emerge for some time now as it offers a French twist to the usual Caribbean experience. But access has always been a little tricky until this year. American Airlines launched direct flights from Miami to Fort-de-France in April. Quantum of the Seas plans to call in Martinique for the 2014-2015 season and Travel Impressions has even added Martinique to its portfolio in 2013. Finally, the destination will host the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference in October, allowing Martinique to showcase its offerings to the rest of the Caribbean and the rest of the world for that matter.
Samana, Dominican Republic
On my first visit, about five years ago, to what was then an unknown island in the northeast of the Dominican Republic, local representatives told me about their resort plans for 2011. I found it hard to imagine penthouse suites and oceanfront villas in this remote setting, but took their word for it. When I returned in April of 2011, to my surprise, three impressive resorts had turned Samana into an attractive proposition for American travelers. It’s not just the resorts. The island is close to the popular Puerto Plata, and JetBlue Airways launched direct flights from JFK in New York to the four-year-old Juan Bosch Airport in Samana in November of last year. The island has already drawn wealthy Dominicans, Europeans and Canadians.
The recipe for a success when it comes to being a dominant weddings and honeymoon destinations is pretty simple: make sure you are located in the Caribbean and make sure your destination is featured on either ABC’s “The Bachelor” or its equally successful “The Bachelorette.” Curacao is the latest Caribbean island to feel the positive ramifications of being featured on The Bachelorette in 2012 as scores and scores of U.S. honeymooners have been making their way there in 2013. Popular all-inclusive chain, AMResorts, in fact, opened a new resort in Curacao in December of 2012 in the form of the Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino.
Central America’s smallest nation, El Salvador is an adventure and cultural traveler’s treasure-trove waiting to be discovered. From Mayan ruins, colonial towns and artists’ colonies to lush jungle and deserted sandy beaches, El Salvador promises to enchant new experience seekers. Its Pacific waters are also renowned to be a paradise for surfers. It will be hosting the first-ever El Salvador Travel Market 2013 in September, an indication that the country is looking to take a much more, proactive approach to attracting tourists.
Nicaragua is quickly gaining steam as one of the best destinations in Central America. Tourism there saw a huge increase in 2012 and INTUR, the destination’s tourism board, is spending twice as much money on marketing Nicaraguan tourism than it did last year. Surfing—and adventure travel in general—is the main reason this hot spot will continue to make a great Central American vacation. But Mukul, the destination’s first luxury resort, which opened earlier in 2013, could be the reason why it may become the hottest getaway in all of Latin America.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is an international destination with a European flare, but a style that is decidedly Latin. The destination is home to galleries, museums, UNESCO sites, boutique hotels, arts venues, restaurants and shopping that make it one of the most cosmopolitan and chic destinations in Latin America.
Puebla was put on the map last year at the 2013 Tianguis Turistico. This city, about an hour and a half from Mexico City, is the culinary heartland of Mexico. It is home to some of the best outdoor markets and boutique hotels around, and it is the birthplace of some of Mexico's most famous dishes (like mole!).
Larry Ellison, co-founder and chief executive of Oracle bought Lanai for $300 million from American businessman David Murdock. And he bought two airlines to service it. His very ambitious plans for the destination include building a luxury hotel. He also plans to make the island perhaps the most environmentally friendly destination in Hawaii. Located only 45 minutes by ferry from Maui or a short plane ride from Oahu, Lanai, known as Hawaii’s ‘private island,’ is a great alternative or addition to the other more frequented, Hawaiian Islands.
Great Lakes, United States
Only a few small ship operators ply the Great Lakes, but these cruises are close to home for many Americans. Compagnie du Ponant and other small ship lines navigate the lakes to such destinations as Mackinac Island, MI, Chicago, IL and Duluth, MN. More lines are paying attention; the new Pearl Seas Cruises will feature Great Lakes itineraries during its 2014 inaugural season.
Over the past few years, safari operators like Singita have opened super-swank lodges across the country's wilderness…but with the recent opening of the first Four Seasons hotel in Tanzania and plans to expand the brand further, the country is clearly getting some significant attention. Tour operators are also increasing their trips to the country.
Though on the rise since last year, Myanmar is just starting to develop the infrastructure it needs to become one of the best destinations in Asia. Untouched for centuries, it is a true peek into Asia's past. Myanmar is also increasingly attracting cruise lines. New ocean and river itineraries are planned for 2014-16 and beyond. Many have overnight stays allowing guests to visit multiple destinations.
Off the southern coast of China, Hainan is quickly growing into the Chinese riviera. It has tropical climates, beaches and some of the most exclusive hotels.
With an environment similar to the Maldives, the Philippines has a tropical, beachy environment but also comes with an urban landscape, as well. It is also a diver's paradise. Hotels to watch are Amanpulo and Raffles Makati.
Vote for which places you think should be picked as Emerging Destinations of 2013 on our Facebook page.