You’ve probably been seeing a lot of lists lately of the top everything for 2018, so here’s something a little bit different.
Airbnb have compiled their list of the top 19 (yes, 19) travel destinations for 2019.
Why 19 destinations? No idea, but Forbes has put them together with some info on each of the top five.
The company based its list on a combination of criteria, including Airbnb searches, growth forecasts and additions to users’ “wish lists”, coming out with a compilation that veers off the beaten path revealing the world’s need to explore.
We’d be inclined to agree more with the 45 000 who took part in the Telegraph’s Travel Awards survey, but we’re a little biased.
Coming in at number one on the Airbnb list is a little town in New Zealand.
1. Kaikoura, New Zealand
Travellers are focusing more and more on an “authentic” travel experience. They also want to visit and help places in need.
Topping this year’s list is Kaikoura, New Zealand, which showed a 295% increase in year-over-year bookings. The coastal town on New Zealand’s South Island was heavily damaged by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2016.
Since then, transport services have reemerged and tourists are flocking there for whale and seal watching.
2. Xiamen, China
The port city has become an aviation hub where tourists are likely to stay longer than a layover.
Airbnb notes booking increases of 283% year-over-year thanks to attractions like local pub crawls, a strong food scene, and the charms of nearby Kulangsu, a pedestrian-only UNESCO-listed island just off the coast.
Backpacking in a pedestrian-only part of the world makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
3. Puebla, Mexico
Puebla is a colonial city with over 300 churches, and is just a three-hour drive from Mexico City.
Instead of the typical Mexican beach vacation, visitors are traveling here to take cooking classes, see lucha libre matches and help out with recovery efforts after the 2017 earthquake that rocked the city. In fact, the city enjoyed a 220% bump in year-over-year searches and a 206% increase in wish-list inclusions.
It’s a beautiful, colourful city as you can see from the above image.
4. Normandy, France
Normandy looks like something out of a fairytale.
Normandy, France, is attracting history buffs and beachgoers alike thanks to its dramatic English Channel coast. 2019 will mark the 75th anniversary if the D-Day landings, which is probably partially behind a 229% increase in bookings and a 120% increase in searches. Airbnb also points to the popularity of architectural tours, a cheese trail and the area’s World War II history.
It has also featured in a number of period dramas and series, which has reawakened it in the popular imagination.
5. Great Smoky Mountains, United States
Rounding off the top five are the Great Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, named as such because the cloud cover looks like smoke.
The area includes the country’s most-visited national park and 800 miles of trails are reopening after devastating wildfires two years ago. No exact numbers were given about whether visitors were also including a stop at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park in nearby Pigeon Forge. However, year-over-year bookings were up 191%.
And who doesn’t love Dolly Parton?
Here’s the remainder of the list:
6. Buenos Aires, Argentina
7. Accra, Ghana
9. Outer Hebrides, Scotland
10. Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
11. Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley, United States
12. Santa Catarina State, Brazil
13. Batumi, Georgia
14. Winnipeg, Canada
15. Pondicherry, India
17. Calabria, Italy
18. Andalusia, Spain
You can check out all of the places that you can visit with a South African passport, visa-free, here.
Happy planning and safe travels.
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