One US list puts Iceland, Finland and Estonia in its top eight worldwide.
The fast-approaching end of the year is prompting industry publications to write lists of their top destinations for agents to keep in mind for 2011. One of the best of these, albeit from a North American viewpoint, was an editorial gallery published at the end of last week by Smarter Travel. Its top eight travel destinations to watch next year include several in the Nordic and Baltic region.
Travel to and from Iceland will get a lot easier in summer when Delta becomes the only US airline to fly there as it launches its New York-Reykjavik route. Icelandair is also expanding its frequencies. Curacao will in 2011 celebrate its first full year as an autonomous nation while remaining part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It will be making its warm waters and colourful architecture more accessible to tourists.
New attractions and big anniversaries make New York City a destination to watch in 2011 as the Statue of Liberty turns 125 years old, the Museum of the Moving Image reopens and the National September 11 Memorial is unveiled. The little-explored destinations that become joint European Capital of Culture in 2011 – Turku in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia – are medieval cities due to stage hundreds of performances, exhibitions and other events throughout the year. Tallinn adopts the euro on January 1, facilitating travel there.
Lonely Planet has named Wellington in New Zealand one of its top 10 cities to visit in 2011. The “Best Little Capital in the World”, as it calls the city, is memorable for its friendly people and its cultural and culinary scenes. Nearby, the Auckland Arts Festival will stage 200 events and Air New Zealand will make the journey there more comfortable from the summer season when it debuts the new economy-class “skycouch” on its route from Los Angeles. Access to Japan is also facilitated next year when a new “open skies” agreement between it and the US comes into effect.
Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports have expanded capacity in expectation of more visitors. Lines for bullet trains have been extended to historic Kyushu and the cherry blossom capital Aomori. And finally, the new 1.3 million gallon dolphin exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium, a new Legoland Discovery Centre and a pirate museum in Atlanta, USA, will likely be attracting hordes of family visitors, especially as the world’s biggest low-cost carrier Southwest starts to build Atlanta into a new hub.
[photo: Hyatt Regency Curacao, Hyatt Hotels]