For tourists looking for more remote, less familiar destinations, the world is getting smaller, but there are still genuinely out-of-the-way places to go.
The mountainous country on the Russian border has only been a minor cultural tourism destination to date, but has much more to offer, with peaks higher than the Alps that hikers and climbers will love. At the same time the Georgian Black Sea coast offers a subtropical climate – a big contrast within a small distance. The tourist season runs from early April to late October.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
This predominantly Muslim nation in the heart of Europe is best known for a civil war two decades ago and has been largely undiscovered as a travel destination. The Balkan republic offers both culture and nature, says Damir Muminagic of the Tourism Association based in Sarajevo. There are picturesque towns like Banja Luka in Bosnia or Mostar in Herzegovina and the mountains also offer winter sports of a decent standard.
As far as tourism goes, Central Asia is still one of the largely unexplored regions of the world. Uzbekistan offers the historically significant city of Samarkand on the former Silk Road, the ancient trade route through Asia. A popular tourist route goes from the Uzbek capital Tashkent via Samarkand and Buchara to Xiva.
Papua New Guinea
This island doesn’t appear on the travel plans of too many tourists. Of those that do drop in, more than 50 per cent are from Australia, a fact explained by its geographical proximity. Mass tourism not being an aspiration here, the tourist attractions emphasise the local culture and adventure.
People travelling to East Africa usually visit Kenya or Tanzania. “We are the least well-known,” admits Valentin Kavakure, marketing chief at Burundi’s National Tourism Office. However the small, land-locked country has plenty of attractions. Burundi offers pristine, tropical landscapes, colonial history and Lake Tanganyika, the second largest lake in Africa. “Here everything is still authentic,” says Kavakure.
In better days the West African country was known as “Caribbean Africa,” but civil war set the country back by decades. Even though today the security situation is safe, most visitors are either business people or members of aid organisations. However, the country is hoping to lure tourists back with its picturesque beaches and ecologically sustainable tourism. Lodges and hotels are everywhere along the Freetown peninsula and the government also plans to build centres for sustainable tourism in the interior.
The Central American country may be small but it offers 300 kilometres of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, an attraction in particular for surfers. In addition there are about 25 volcanoes and in Joya de Ceren an archaeological site that can compete with the cultural hotspots of Mexico and Guatemala. From 2012 to 2013 the number of European visitors increased from 25,744 to 32,344. One problem though is security: in El Salvador there’s quite a lot of crime.
In terms of area, the South American country is a giant but tourists tend to prefer Argentina, Brazil and Peru, leaving Colombia as a secret for those in the know. Because of its varied history the country is fascinating. Tourism highlights include the Tayrona national park in the Caribbean north, the colonial city of Cartagena and the volcanoes of Cocuy national park.