It’s a great time to be a travel agent. Tourism is on the rise across the globe and travelers are eager to set aside the time and money to reach their travel goals. The sheer number of tourists abroad has overwhelmed the most popular destinations, such as Italy, France, and Spain. Some tourism boards have even considered limiting the number of visitors each year. Many travelers are seeking out destinations with a smaller, but growing tourism presence. If your clients are ready to try something new, here are 30 amazing destinations to know and visit this year.
1. Budva, Montenegro
This tiny country is packed full of undiscovered charm. Its rugged mountains and dazzling beaches remain somewhat quiet, thanks to the popularity of nearby destinations such as Greece and Croatia. Montenegro offers beauty, history, and total tranquility at a great price.
2. Marrakech, Morocco
The bustling streets and spice-infused air of Morocco’s “Red City” are filled with fascinating discoveries for those who love interacting (and bartering) with locals. The best seasons for travel are spring and fall.
3. Budapest, Hungary
Travelers seeking a culturally-rich experience with an affordable price tag are flocking to Hungary’s capital city. Don’t let your travelers miss a dinner cruise on the scenic Danube River.
4. Antananarivo, Madagascar
For those eager to discover some of the world’s most unique wildlife, the isolated island of Madagascar is the place to go. Over 90% of its wildlife can be found nowhere else on earth. For years, Madagascar’s tourism industry remained underdeveloped. However, strides are being made to change this with the development of new luxury resorts such as Miavana.
5. Phuket, Thailand
As adventure sports travel has surged in popularity in the past decade, Thailand has emerged as the thrill-seeker’s paradise. Backpacking, mountain biking, zip-lining, snorkeling, and sea-kayaking are just a few of the amazing experiences Thailand has to offer. Phuket is a great destination to try your skills at kitesurfing.
6. Avarua, Cook Islands
The shimmering, blue lagoons of the Cook Islands have remained somewhat unknown to North American tourists. This is the new destination for travelers looking for a unique island getaway.
7. Lofoten, Norway
Norway steadily ranks as one of the happiest, healthiest countries in the world. Travelers pursuing a healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle readily embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, literally translating to “open-air living.” Experience Lofoten for some of Norway’s best hiking and dramatic scenery.
8. Manila, Philippines
The vibrant city of Manila is bursting with exquisite cuisine and high-end shopping. You will note the strong Spanish and Chinese influences that make this city so unique. Check out Binondo, the world’s very first Chinatown, or Intramuros, for a taste of Manila’s Spanish colonial side.
9. Adelaide, Australia
Adelaide is a foodie’s dream destination. The choices in cuisine are endless with amazing options for Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican and much more! For a beautiful, outdoor adventure, head to Kangaroo Island, 130 miles southeast of the city.
10. Atacama Desert, Chile
Since Chile’s borders stretch down a long, narrow strip of land running north to south, it is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. There is so much to do, but one of the most unique experiences might be stargazing. Chile’s Atacama Desert is the best stargazing destination on earth.
In pictures, Cyprus looks almost too good to be true. Deep, blue waters dotted with sun-soaked rock formations crash against the shoreline. Enchanting waterfalls and quiet woodlands wait for adventurous hikers. It’s easy to see why this beautiful, Mediterranean island is home to so many ancient, Greek legends.
12. Hakone, Japan
Located within a reasonable driving distance from Tokyo, Hakone is a wonderful getaway for those needing a break from the city rush. It is known for natural hot springs, hiking trails, and amazing views of Mt. Fuji.
13. Azores, Portugal
These carefully-preserved islands rank high for sustainable tourism. Explore the surrounding ocean through a whale-watching tour or diving excursion. Admire the distinct, rugged landscape of the Azores by foot or horseback. To get there, take a Delta flight from New York to Ponta Delgada.
14. Nairobi, Kenya
The African safari industry has started to tap into new markets such as China, Russia, and Brazil. This has growth has been especially noteworthy in Kenya, which is sometimes called the “Safari Capital of the World.”
15. Roseau, Dominica
This gorgeous Caribbean gem sets itself apart from its popular, tourist-heavy neighbors. If you’re looking for a party scene, a variety of high-end luxury resorts or modern amenities, this is not your place. Dominica, also called “The Nature Island,” has established itself as the eco-friendly destination, appealing to hikers, adventurers, and nature lovers.
16. Montevideo, Uruguay
Uruguay is home to some truly unique natural and historical sites. The vibrant but laid-back capital of Montevideo provides the perfect blend of fun and relaxation. It’s no wonder Uruguay is the fastest growing tourist destination in South America.
17. Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria has a little bit of everything. Hike the towering Balkan Mountains. Soak up the sun along the coast of the glistening Black Sea. Take a walk through history as you explore Sofia, one of the oldest cities in Europe. You are sure to feel welcome in this beautiful country. Bulgaria is one of the few countries in Europe not yet overwhelmed by tourism. You might even receive a thank you card for your visit!
18. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland, while still on the rise for tourism, is one country considering a tourist cap. Iceland began putting heavy emphasis on advertising to tourists in 2010. By 2016, the total number of American tourists visiting the country actually surpassed the population. Top draws to the country include viewing the Northern Lights, whale watching, and geothermal spas.
19. Kigali, Rwanda
Emerging from the shadows of a troubled past, Rwanda looks ahead to a bright and promising future. The beautiful, ecologically diverse country has risen to the forefront of adventure tourism. Gorilla treks and volcano hikes top the list of things to try.
20. Québec City, Québec
Canada may not immediately come to mind for an exotic, foreign getaway. But the beautiful architecture and charming cafes of this French-speaking province blend the best of European and North American culture.
21. Lviv, Ukraine
Located on the far western side of Ukraine, Lviv is packed with culture and history. Take a slow walk through the city to enjoy the delightful architecture and many museums. Rest at one of Lviv’s many famous coffee shops, including one where your waiter will literally set your coffee on fire.
22. Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tourism to Sierra Leone has spiked since the threat of the Ebola virus cleared in 2015. Enjoy soft, secluded beaches, and jungles laden with diverse wildlife. Fill up on fresh fish, produce, and favorite local dishes such as groundnut stew or cassava bread.
23. Managua, Nicaragua
If you’re looking for a little slice of paradise with plenty to do and an affordable price, you don’t have to go far. Try Nicaragua! Unplug in a treetop room at the Aqua Wellness Resort, enjoying yoga, kayaking or relaxing on the white sand beach. Get your adventure by hiking or volcano boarding down one of Nicaragua’s many active volcanoes.
24. Saariselkä, Finland
Although often overshadowed by the rest of Scandinavia, Finland is rising on the tourist scene. Thanks to Pinterest, Finland’s Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is now an iconic, bucket list favorite. Here you can view the Northern Lights from a cozy, glass dome in the middle of the Finnish wilderness.
25. Darjeeling, India
“Tea tourism” is a small, but rapidly growing travel niche. As the American tea industry has grown by billions in the past two decades, travelers are heading to the lush, hilly regions of India to experience the planting and harvesting process firsthand. In Darjeeling, you can tour and even spend the night at a tea plantation. The Happy Valley Tea Estate, Glenburn Estate, and Makaibari Estate are a few popular options.
26. Moscow, Russia
Since the World Cup, travelers have shown a renewed interest in Russia. Get your history and culture fix in Moscow’s many museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. If you are heading to St. Petersburg, check out one of the popular day cruises for a unique and relaxing way to do your sightseeing.
27. Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam is relatively new on the tourist scene. Packed full of history, stunning landscapes, and incredible street food, there is a little something for everyone! Many travelers get frustrated when dealing with local vendors as they often feel ripped off or lied to about the price of whatever they are trying to buy. If you are prepared to bargain for everything, you will have a great experience!
28. Doha, Qatar
Your first impression of Doha will be its stunning, futuristic skyline. As you further explore the city, you will fall in love with Doha’s art, culture, and warmth. Visit Souq Waqif for the traditional Qatari market feel or the falcon souq to learn the importance of falconry. If you’re feeling adventurous, hit the sand dunes for a dune bashing excursion.
29. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is gaining recognition as a “foodie destination.” Don’t miss staples such as empanadas, asado (barbeque), and choripan. For dessert, try sweet alfajores filled with dulce de leche.
30. Valletta, Malta
Valletta tops many lists as an emerging travel destination. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, brimming with history in every corner. Beyond its historical significance, Valletta is known for sunshine and clear, clean waters. Take a boat tour and cruise along the Maltese coastline for some really incredible views.