According to Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel, the travel industry's 2019 outlook is bright - Planes are full and so are hotels. So we've pulled together what many across the industry are saying will be this year's top travel destinations.
1. Argentina (Buenos Aires)
Buenos Aires blends the grandeur of Europe with the passion of Latin America to deliver a unique cultural experience. In a land known for prime cuts of beef, world class malbecs and the Tango, visitors can rest assured knowing Argentines know how to indulge life’s simplest pleasures. Buenos Aires is not just for foodies, the city caters to a broad spectrum of travelers. Football (or Soccer) is a religion in the country which has won the World Cup twice and sports fans should prioritize attending a match. The city’s architecture is also intriguing with, French and Italian inspired palaces and murals from local artists. And for those in search of a buzzing party scene, look no further. Buenos Aires’ nightlife ranges from Jazz to full on night clubs where the locals don’t show up until around 2am.
2. South Asia (Sri Lanka, Maldives)
This part of the world has seen a dramatic spike in popularity due in large to the proliferation of aerial drone shots featuring floating villas, pristine beaches and luscious landscapes.
Sri Lanka's biodiversity makes it a highly attractive destination for both adventure and lifestyle travelers. This small island off the coast of India features eight UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) world heritage sites ranging from natural wonders to ancient temples. Breathtaking landscapes are scattered throughout the island and traveling by train is one of the easiest ways to experience them. Whether it’s the tropical waterfalls and tea plantations in the central hills, the national parks and elephants safaris, or the pristine beaches, Sri Lanka offers a broad range of opportunities for those looking to wander a bit off the beaten path.
Think pristine beaches, crystal clear water, vibrant coral reefs and floating bungalows and the first place that should come to mind is Maldives. A top destination for luxury travelers and honeymooners, vacationing in this oasis in the Indian ocean is like having an island all to yourself. While the country has a small local population concentrated in the main city of Malé, it has become most notorious for an ever increasing number of luxury resorts featuring over the top amenities like retractable ceilings, private butlers and perfectly manicured golf courses. Maldives is especially popular among aquatic enthusiasts looking to dive among tropical fish, manta rays, sea turtles and the world’s largest fish, the whales shark. While it’s best to visit during the dry season (December - April) Maldives’ consistent 80 degree weather make it the perfect year round beach getaway.
Named after the world’s oldest desert (The Namib), Namibia’s landscape is like none other. A coastal desert in southeast Africa, peppered with canyons, mountain ranges, plains, rivers and wetlands, the country is one of Africa’s most diverse, making it great place to scope wildlife. Here you’ll find everything from black rhinos to zebras, leopards, elephants and more. While there are a number of guided tours many travelers opt to rent a vehicle (preferably 4WD as the roads are essentially sand and gravel) and visit the various wildlife reserves independently.
Namibia is one of Africa’s pricier destinations due to its remote nature and a recent influx of luxury lodges, however for those looking for the perfect introduction to the vast continent, there are few better places to start. People are friendly, the food is good and while remote, there is plenty to see and do in the country. Extreme sports like skydiving are quite popular in Namibia and with towering dunes this is where you’ll want to try sandboarding or quad biking.
4. Turkey (Istanbul, The Turkish Riviera, Cappadocia)
After a brief hiatus, Turkey is back with destinations like Istanbul, the Turkish Riviera and Cappadocia all gaining popularity among the wealthy and Insta-crazed.
Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey, has gained recent popularity due to its unique instagrammability. From its martian landscape made of eroded rock formations to the fiery sky often filled with colorful hot air balloons, this World Heritage site is the history lover’s dream. Visitors travel from around the world to explore the tunnels and underground towns up to eight stories deep carved by its ancient residents.
Istanbul, the point where Europe meets Asia, is a delicate balance of rich history, diversity and world class nightlife. From its people and cuisine to the mix of architecture hailing from the various empires that once ruled the historic region, the country has managed to preserve it’s most unique qualities at every turn. Many ancient structures still remain with interiors adorned with vibrant frescoes and restored mosaics.
The Turkish Riviera is poised to see an influx of tourism in 2019 with a series of new luxury hotels, restaurants, lounges and nightclubs popping up. British Airways has also resumed direct flights between London and Dalaman, giving travelers unprecedented access to secluded beach spots on the Datça and Bodrum Peninsulas that were previously off limits. At just a stone’s throw from the Greek islands, the Turquoise Coast is a great option for those looking for a healthy mix of party and relaxation.
5. China (Hong Kong, Shēnzhèn)
If you’re considering heading to China for the first time the southeast region is a fair place to start. Between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, there’ll be plenty to keep you occupied.
According to the World Economic Forum more tourists chose Hong Kong than any other city in 2018 and that’s expected to continue into 2019. Hong Kong offers a unique combination of modern and ancient traditions and caters to all types of travelers from the history buffs to the foodies. Where one minute you may find yourself in the downtown area of a global metropolis, the next you might be bartering in a local bazaar, surrounded by a mountainous landscapes, visiting an ancient buddhist temple or exploring a deserted island. Foodies will feel right at home in HK because if there's anything the Chinese take seriously, it’s their cuisines: Chinese barbecue and dim sum are an absolute must while visiting. To really get off the beaten path take a fairy to one of Hong Kong’s smaller surrounding islands like Lantau, Cheung Chau and Lamma Island which is known for its beaches.
Just across the border from Hong Kong is China’s most innovative city. Over the last decade, Shēnzhèn has transformed into Southern China’s economic and manufacturing centers and the country's Silicon Valley equivalent. A bustling city of 15 million, Shēnzhèn is a cheaper alternative to Hong Kong and attracts young talent from all around China. The city offers a vibrant nightlife, cool cafes and restaurants and a budding indie-music scene. Visitors may also be surprised to discover Shēnzhèn’s thriving art district which includes OCT-Loft, an arts-and-lifestyle district lined with palm trees, bookstores and coffee shops. You’ll also find the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) as well as the Design Society, a collaboration with London's Victoria & Albert Museum.
*Given recent acts of terror, it’s important to consult your local government’s travel advisory website before visiting any of these locations.