Adventure and a touch of the gourmet lifestyle will shape the holiday plans of travellers in 2014.
Flight Centre has issued its top 10 hotspots for 2014. The list, created by Flight Centre’s team of experts, is compiled according to three factors including what the company believes to be emerging hotspots, what its customers are enquiring about and what the travel industry is offering next year.
Flight Centre executive general manager of marketing Colin Bowman said the majority of the 2014 hotspots were selected based on growing demands from customers wanting more out of their holiday itinerary.
“Adventure and gourmet travel are high on the priority list for customers and we expect these trends to continue to soar,” Mr Bowman said.
“Stop and flop holidays will always be a crowd pleaser, but more and more we are noticing our customers want more out of their holiday and a sense of adventure or a touch of gourmet are two ways they’re achieving this.”
Travellers will score big time exploring Brazil in 2014 as the country celebrates its status as host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and gears up for the Olympics in 2016. Brazil is a sexy destination all about its samba music, soccer stars and supermodel beauties strolling the streets. It is also a land of juxtaposition with wild parties and wild jungles, adventure one minute, siesta the next.
Brazil is also the perfect destination for voluntourism, and as that holiday type itself surges in popularity, so too will the popularity of Brazil and, particularly, projects in the Amazon jungle. As the largest country in South America, you know Brazil is jam-packed with things to see and do. To get an authentic feel, explore the white sands of Copacabana and Ipanema, head to the Amazon and immerse yourself in Sao Paulo’s cosmopolitan culture.
Insider Tip: Brazil’s true colours shine during the vibrant annual Carnaval, so if the timing works for your travel plans jump at the chance to head to the Carnival Capital of the World, Rio de Janeiro during February - March.
No longer just a stop-over hub, Singapore is a fully-fledged tourism hot spot. A comfortable flight time (6 -8hrs), 3hr time difference, strong dollar and an all-year round 30 degree climate are just the tip of the iceberg. Even if you were there three years ago, you’ll notice a very different Singapore today. From traditional hawker street food markets to the glamour of some of Asia’s best rooftop bars and designer shops, Singapore is a multi-faceted destination offering travellers the perfect blend of history, culture, arts and adventure. And thanks to a strong economy and subsequent ex-pat community, Singapore is as cosmopolitan as they come.
Travellers will get a kick out of Sentosa Island, a purpose-built island complete with theme park, hotel, adventure experiences and connecting monorail. For those looking to take in the cosmopolitan side of Singapore a visit to Little India, Arab Street and Club Street will unveil the many different cultures of Singapore. A seamless, efficient underground tube system, the cleanest streets you’ve seen, and the friendly faces of local Singaporeans are all other reasons why Singapore is burgeoning to the top of the list for travellers.
Insider Tip: The famous Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel is the single must-do on any traveller’s list. Rudyard Kipling famously wrote The Jungle Book while sipping one himself in the hotel and its magnificent facade is steeped in colonial heritage.
For an add-on to your Singapore stay, Malaysian Langkawi and Sabah are a short flight but a world away from the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan vibe.
China’s cosmopolitan darling, Shanghai is often forgotten as travellers traditionally flock to Beijing to see the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. But Shanghai is in a league of its own. Shanghai offers different perspective, from ancient to modern and East to West.
In 2013, passport holders of 45 countries and regions including Australia were granted a visa-free transit stay of up to 72 hours when taking an international transfer via airports. As travellers embrace the flexibility and convenience of visa travel in China, Flight Centre predicts a surge in popularity for a Shanghai stopover.
Insider Tip: The Bund is a famous waterfront strip regarded as the symbol of Shanghai and perfect for people-watching.
The US city of New Orleans certainly has many new things on offer, but its unique quirks are stepped in tradition and cultural heritage. Founded by the French, briefly ruled by the Spanish and called home by the Haitians in the early 1800s, New Orleans has a vibrant history and is the most European city in America. New Orleans has never been easier to access from Australia with all major US hubs servicing New Orleans, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Houston. It is also one of the most walkable cities, with more than 1,300 restaurants, 263 full service and boutique hotels, award-winning museums and premier tours and attractions, all scattered throughout the historic French Quarter, CBD and Warehouse District.
Jazz is said to have been born here, but the city is home to a variety of styles including Gospel, Latin, R&B, Country, Folk, the Blues, Reggae, and good old Rock n’ Roll. From jazz tunes to local cuisine, New Orleans has an array of treats for travellers to sample. They say ‘Gumbo’, a soup made of local seafood such as shrimp, crabs and crawfish, is a tasty metaphor of New Orleans culture.
Insider Tip: Hit the cobblestone streets running and take a walking tour of the cultural hub of New Orleans, the French Quarter. With its old world shops and building facades a walking tour offers a great insight into the history of New Orleans and is much more fun than just driving by.
South Africa is the great all-rounder perfect for all traveller types where you can seek adventure, adrenalin, romance, family time or food and wine indulgence. South Africa’s tourism market is expected to continue to move from strength to strength in 2014 with improved infrastructure across the industry playing its part in improving travellers’ experiences.
Domestic travel within South Africa will also be even easier and more accessible, especially around the Kruger region, with the planned re-opening of the Skukuza Airport in the Kruger National Park in May 2014. South Africa is also encroaching on the space usually only reserved for the likes of Paris, London and New York in terms of being a food hotspot, growing its reputation for great local cuisine and world-class wines.
For a history lesson, a visit to the township of Soweto will give travellers a strong sense of the story behind the apartheid struggle, while Newtown will show off the artistic flare of the culture today.
Insider Tip: Well-known for its “Big Five” – the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – you can spot them at any of the numerous safari lodge options available. But along with the Big Five, you can spot another big one off the Western Cape coast where cage diving with great white sharks is growing in popularity.
A Central American eco-hub that won’t costa lot! Budget conscious travellers are expanding their horizons with more affordable airfare pricing over the past few years making USA, South America and Central America all much more viable holiday options. Costa Rica is one of the 20 richest countries in biodiversity and eco-conscious travellers will delight in exploring the rainforests, active volcanoes, thermal hot springs, beautiful beach and a thriving marine surface.
From canopy tours to diving and white water rafting, Costa Ricans know how to show off their assets and travellers with a passion for Mother Nature will find this place a wonder to behold.
Insider Tip: 30kms from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital lies the most active of all Costa Rica volcanoes. Irazu is a colossal giant and on a clear day both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are visible from its peak.
From the vibrant atmosphere of cosmopolitan Adelaide to the pristine beaches of Kangaroo Island and the world-famous wine region of the Barossa, South Australia truly offers something for everyone from adventure to avant-garde.
South Australia is a cultural haven for tourists looking to experience award winning wines, food and some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia.
There’s never been a better time to capitalise on the gourmet delights of South Australia as Adelaide is undergoing a transformation with access from all major airports around Australia now available.
In other developments, the legendary Adelaide Oval is undergoing a redevelopment to see it grow to hold a capacity of 50,000 while the ever-expanding Adelaide Convention Centre will soon be the largest convention centre in Australia. Outside of the city, Kangaroo Island is receiving a new passenger terminal and Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges are soon to be completing their new Safaris tents.
Insider Tip: Just across the water but a world away, Kangaroo Island is 509kms of coastline with native bushland, wildlife, pristine beaches, local wines and spectacular sunsets all on your doorstep. For the ultimate experience, book a few nights at Southern Ocean Lodge, one of Australia’s premier luxury accommodations positioned atop a secluded cliff on a rugged stretch of coastline.
France is only a few hours away, who knew? The glamour of France with the hospitality of the South Pacific, New Caledonia is steeped in French colonial history yet has the beach vibe and strong indigenous culture of a South Pacific Island. Key to its growing popularity with guests is its proximity to Australian soil; a short 2hr flight from Brisbane and under 3hrs from Sydney.
A new resort (Sheraton Deva Resort & Spa), apartment style hotel (Hilton Residences) and the introduction of a twice-weekly Melbourne to Noumea service with Aircalin will see tourists, particularly from the southern states, flock to New Caledonia in 2014. Aircalin’s new Melbourne to Noumea service will be upped to three times weekly during winter, making it the perfect excuse to chase the sun next winter.
Insider Tip: New Caledonia is a cosmopolitan city with restaurants, bars, night clubs and casinos all on offer, but travellers can seek tranquillity on the islands of Ouvea, Isle of Pines and Lifou.
Travellers looking for adventure are setting sail on expedition cruises to get closer to the action. Think Antarctica, the Kimberley, the Amazon, Galapagos Islands and Arctic Norway. In recent years, expedition cruise bookings have grown in size and Flight Centre predicts this trend to increase in 2014 with the most popular expedition cruise choices for 2014 to be the Kimberley, Norway and Galapagos Islands.
Very different to traditional cruising, expedition cruises vessels are often smaller to allow access to more remote destinations inaccessible by most cruise liners and go without the glitz, glamour and nightly entertainment of a typical cruise holiday. Full of unique experience, expedition cruises are dedicated to helping passengers learn all about the history and culture of the remote destinations they’re visiting. An overnight docking might involve spotting wildlife at dawn on the water’s edge or a visit into remote Papua New Guinean territory to see a local tribe perform a century old ceremony.
Insider Tip: While shore excursions are based on different interests and fitness levels, mobility is a must for most expedition cruises as many stops are wet stops, where passengers disembark on to smaller vessels and sail to shore or explore in the water.
Monks, mountains and modernisation summarise the Kingdom of Bhutan in South Asia. Tucked away in the Eastern Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan offers travellers a wonderful blend of ancient Asian civilisation with a touch of Himalayan adventure. Bhutan is potentially one of the happiest places on earth. In 1971 the King famously coined the term Gross National Happiness and it’s been used in Bhutan ever since as a philosophical measurement of economic development instead of Gross Domestic Product.
If the old King’s views on economic progression are anything to go by, you know you’ll be greeted with friendly faces and a positive outlook on life in Bhutan.
Drukair is Bhutan’s national airline and is the only airline to operate flights in and out of the country. However, three land border crossings and easy access from Bangkok, Nepal, Singapore and India ensure Bhutan is easily accessible for most travellers.
Flight Centre predicts the surge in its double dip airfares, two airfares for one low price, will see more travellers add a Bhutan stopover to their Thailand, Singapore or India itineraries.
Insider Tip: Bhutan’s geographic location and unique climatic variations make it one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots. Conservation is key and there are a number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries showcasing endangered animals, birds and plants to raise awareness.