A World Cup-gripped Brazil, a remote corner of Australia and a Colombia keen to shed its dark reputation are the hottest 2014 travel destinations.
Here are the places you should put on your 2014 travel destination wish list:
Nowhere is set to sizzle more in 2014 than booty-shaking Brazil, as soccer fans from around the world descend on the country for the FIFA World Cup.
Accommodation and hotels will be in high demand during World Cup time in June and July, but if you don’t have tickets, consider venturing to the country in spring or autumn.
Brazil took the number one position on Lonely Planet’s best countries to visit in 2014 list, and Contiki Holidays’ managing director Fiona Hunt says Australians are becoming more aware of the treasure trove of travel experiences Latin America offers.
“With Brazil hosting the Summer Olympics in 2016 and next year’s FIFA World Cup, we don’t expect the demand to slow anytime soon,” she said earlier this year.
2. THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA
Australia’s remote Kimberley region is getting a lot of attention of late, and although it can be an expensive to get to, it’s been deemed worth the trip by travel experts.
Australian Traveller’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards recently named the Kimberley the ultimate domestic dream destination, best adventure holiday destination and best cruise experience.
Lonely Planet also placed the Kimberley in second spot in its worldwide list of top 10 regions to visit in 2014.
At the time, Lonely Planet spokesperson Chris Zeiher said with mining near areas such as the Kimberley, no one knows how long such places will remain pristine.
“We know it’s difficult to get to, we know it’s expensive to get to, but the reason it really ranked so highly was more about seeing it now,” Zeiher said.
It has a reputation for cocaine and kidnapping, but Colombia is starting to shake off its bad-boy image and entice travellers searching for a destination with a difference.
“Colombia is no longer perceived to be a dangerous place and has opened itself up to tourism in the last few years,” says Intrepid Travel managing director James Thornton. But, he adds, it still remains largely untouched.
Intrepid and Peregrine tour companies have increased their range of trips in Colombia from one to four next year.
Thornton says travellers will love the country’s beaches, national parks and coffee plantations.
Myanmar (Burma) continues to be on Aussies’ must-see lists thanks to its relatively recent embracing of tourism.
Travel companies are responding to demand, too. Intrepid Travel has found its Myanmar tours so popular that in 2014 it’s launching a new journey to the nation’s southern islands.
Cruiseco is also increasing its presence there, with its new ship, Cruiseco Explorer, to start trips on the waters of the Irrawaddy, Upper Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in October, 2014.
Photographer Kim Buddee says a lot is happening in Yangon (Rangoon), but most of the country is still of another era.
“It’s a vast country and is still vastly untouched, and wonderfully interesting,” he says.
In spite of diplomatic hiccups between Indonesia and Australia since the Abbott government came to power, the archipelago remains a favourite for travellers.
Bali continues to draw visitors, and new hotels are springing up across the party island.
East coast surfers’ retreat Komune Resort is continuing to be developed, while General Hotel Management’s fifth Bali hotel is on track to open toward the end of next year.
Neighbouring Lombok is also growing in popularity, enticing travellers searching for `old Bali’, sans Bintang tees.
Jetstar is launching its inaugural Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Melbourne to Denpasar late December, which follows on from the introduction of the airline’s direct flights from Perth to Lombok in September.
Jetstar’s head of commercial Nigel Fanning says Lombok offers more than just a fly and flop holiday market.
6. SRI LANKA
After more than two decades of civil war, tourists are becoming increasingly interested in Sri Lanka.
In 2013, Intrepid Travel’s sales to the island nation were up by 65 per cent from the year before, and the positive growth will see the company launch a new food adventure tour next year.
“Sri Lanka is a little gem but it won’t be a secret for very long, so 2014 is the year to get there before the crowds do,” says Intrepid’s James Thornton.
“It’s a small country, so it’s easy to tackle in a short amount of time and has such varied experiences – beautiful beaches, the cooler highlands and tea plantations, ancient ruins, national parks teeming with wildlife.”
Havana in Cuba took the crown in TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the World, which were part of the website’s 2013 Travellers’ Choice Awards announced this month.
“Havana is like a city trapped in time, and captures the imagination like no other,” says TripAdvisor spokesperson Jean Ow-Yeong.
“The city is a melting pot of attractions, with a stunning backdrop of colour, from walking Old Havana to the Catedral de san Cristobal.
“As many global travellers are well aware, and as reflected in the feedback from millions of TripAdvisor travellers, Havana is an outstanding destination with growing appeal.”
Meantime, Trinidad came in at number two in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2014 list.
Thanks to Emirates’ partnership with Qantas, Dubai is gaining more attention as a stop-over destination on the way to Europe.
Travel website lastminute.com.au has found that Dubai is climbing in the popularity stakes, recording a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in flight bookings throughout 2013.
“With several international flights now flying from Australia via this thriving Middle Eastern metropolis, the desire to explore Dubai has skyrocketed,” says Kirsty La Bruniy, lastminute.com.au’s head of marketing communications.
The Dubai trend is expected to continue in 2014, as Emirates expands its fleet.
“The strategic location of Dubai makes it possible for us to serve almost 90 per cent of the world’s population with non-stop flights,” said Emirates Airline president Tim Clark in October.
“Our aim has always been to connect travellers from around the world to Dubai, and other destinations with just a single stop via our hub.”
Tourism is also likely to increase as a result of the city playing host to the 2020 World Expo.
Australia’s connection with China is growing across many sectors, with travel up the top thanks to airline influence.
The recently announced code-share deal between Qantas and China Southern Airlines, as well as China Southern’s October launch of its A380 service between Sydney and Guangzhou, will no doubt result in increased tourism between Australia and China.
Sichuan Airlines will also start twice-weekly non-stop flights between Chongqing and Sydney on December 20, while earlier this year, Sichuan began direct flights between Melbourne and Chengdu.
Hotel groups are also expanding in China. Langham Hospitality Group will open the luxury hotel Langham Place in Haining in 2014, while for the past three years, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has been increasing its brand there.
Shanghai also ranked sixth in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2014, and Hunan ninth in its Top 10 Regions to Visit.
The 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest generated extra interest in the beautiful country of Nepal, but it is the development in the Annapurna region that will see more travellers put the country on their wish lists for 2014.
Road construction beside the popular Annapurna circuit is expected to result in more hikers racing to the country, eager to experience Nepal before progress drastically alters the landscape.
Nearly half a million people hike in the Nepal Himalaya every year, according to World Expeditions, and author Garry Weare believes that within another generation, trekking in the Himalayas will be limited to national parks.
But it’s not just hiking trails that are popular; Kathmandu came in third on TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the World.