It’s time to start work on the survey of top places to go in 2016. The Observer’s compilation of the various trend lists is pointed toward publication the weekend after Christmas.
Granted, most trend lists are subjective. But they do serve several purposes.
1. They may alert you to improved infrastructure. Some destinations get bumped up the must-go lists because of new airports, new bridges, new hotels, improved cruise accessibility, etc.
2. List-toppers could flag good deals. Exchange rates fluctuate due to a number of factors. The bottom line, though, is that some vacation spots may cost less. A boom in hotel building also is attractive to trend-spotters... and a tidal wave of new lodging options also tends to lower (or stabilize) your vacation costs.
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3. Some destinations move up on lists because of important events: Olympics, centennials and so on.
The adventure tour operator booker Exodus Travels tried to get ahead of the list curve this week by releasing an overview of what it sees as trends that will guide where people will head if seeking adventure travel.
In sifting through the incoming pile of 2016 lists, some of the Exodus Travels findings seem to be ringing true.
The adventure-travel trends they seek:
1. The “Cecil Effect” – African conservation safaris. An interest by nature lovers outraged over the killing of Cecil the lion in Africa. The trend counters hunting-safari tourism: Conservationist tourists won’t travel to kill animals; keep wild animals alive to snare these vacationers. Watch for a rising interest in visiting Botswana.
2. “Jungle Book” travel. The release in 2016 of a big-name film adaptation of the Kipling classic may steer people to visit tiger and safari parks in India.
3. The opening up of Iran. The easing this year of travel sanctions may spur renewed interest in seeing the sites of ancient Persia.
4. “Extreme wellness” trips. Hardcore biking; trekking to destinations like Nepal or Madagascar.
5. Away-from-work adventures. Studies report that workaholic employees return from overseas vacations more energized and productive. This sounds good, but most firms are unlikely to encourage or subsidize this. Ask your boos about this and see if he/she snorts in derision.
6. The opening of Cuba. Everybody’s talking about it. But the travel infrastructure isn’t there yet, and travel restrictions are still not lifted.
7. Eastern Europe. The travel infrastructure is growing – while the region remains somewhat exotic.
8. Women traveling solo. Makes sense, given the growing number of female executives who can afford an adventure trip.
9. Self-guided travel. Makes sense: You can’t get as good a feel for a distant place when you’re crammed in a bus with 26 travelers who are members of the Central Illinois Barbers Association.
10. Winter travel. Ah, the season when travel costs can drop with the temperatures. And think of all the people whose vacation days no longer roll over to the next year!