Trip.com, the travel planning and local discovery app and site, today announced its 2017 Rising Star Destinations and its 2017 Destinations Worth a Second Look lists, generated from user data on more than 60,000 destinations. Top Rising Stars include Adelaide, Medellin and Cuba, plus seven others that experienced the largest increase in tourism this year.
“If 2016 was the year of North America, 2017 is the year of getting off the grid at home and abroad,” notes Travis Katz, Co-founder and CEO of Trip.com. “The big trend we’re seeing is that, more than in recent years, people want that off-the-radar vibe and an authentic experience that feels like personal discovery – whether it’s the ‘frozen in time’ atmosphere of Cuba, now open to tourism after more than 50 years, or eating Georgian food in Tbilisi.”
Trip.com’s Rising Stars list for 2016 includes:
- Adelaide – The South Australia gateway to the wines of the Barossa Valley, host to the Adelaide Festival and Fringe Festival, Kangaroo Island (a pristine nature reserve where visitors can observe iconic Australian wildlife). Known as the ‘city of churches’, history buffs can visit a variety of 19th-century houses of worship, while three national parks border the city and offer great hiking and nature appreciation. And then there’s all the other festivals, food, wine, emerging laneway culture, beaches and the list goes on.
- Cuba – Travelers are definitely taking advantage of Cuba’s newly open doors, where the beaches are powdery, the mojitos are strong, and the food is everything they’ve only read about for the past 50 years. Exploring Havana is a must, but a trip to Cuba should also include Trinidad and Cayo Iguana (an island filled with, yes, iguanas), bicycling through the Vinales Valley, dancing the Son in Santiago de Cuba, and exploring the UNESCO World Heritage art community in Camaguey.
- Medellin – Colombia’s rapidly changing fortunes have made it more and less popular as a destination over the past five years, but Medellin is steadily advancing after its one-time reputation as the most violent of Colombian cities. Following Buenos Aires, Medellin is the most important city for tango in the world and also boasts several museums, including the wonderful Botero.
- Cairo – With the iconic backdrop of sights like the Pyramids of Giza, combined with the chaos and smog the city is known for, Cairo is not the most likely city to earn its slot on this list. But Trip.com users note its incredible food, and the pleasures of losing oneself in the flow and energy of the city. Visitors may want to explore places like Osana Family Wellness, a family-friendly yoga and wellness space in Maadi, which includes Islamic healing and a farmer’s market, or Levant Cuisine, a modern Arab restaurant rumored to be just as good as a flight to Beirut. While it’s recommended to check the latest travel updates as Egypt has had some issues with violence, Cairo is not currently listed as a restricted destination.
- South Padre Island (Texas) – No longer just a spring break getaway, Tripsters find themselves exploring the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, a Dolphin Research Center, fishing trips for osprey, skydiving on the beach, or taking a cruise on a pirate ship. The city has worked hard to lose the stigma of tequila shots and hedonistic students in favor of year-round outdoorsy family fun – and it shows.
- Bucharest – Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’, then damaged by years of war, it’s now an increasingly cool Eastern European capital. Historical sites like the Romanian Village Museum (an open-air exhibition featuring actual houses and traditional ethnographic artifacts) and the 19th century domed and columned concert hall of the Romanian Athenaeum contrast with a modernity that paints its own street art, organizes its own protests, and eats its own organic French fries.
- Malta – This Mediterranean island nation is where travelers will find the UNESCO World Heritage recognized Valletta, ANNIE Mac Presents Lost and Found Festival (think raves on boats and parties in castles) or spots like the Harbour Club (a former fort turned three-floor bar/jazz lounge).
- Bath – The perfect destination for anyone feeling like they need a dose of Jane Austen dipped in a Roman bath and studded with young creatives. It’s beloved for its easy walkability, and has recently been blessed with its own craft beer from Electric Bear and increasingly cool pop-ups like the ones in Autumn 2016 at Bailbrook House, plus newer spots like the Redan Inn, where visitors can spend the evening indulging in gastropublian excellence.
- Stuttgart – The city famous for being the home of Mercedes-Benz and hosting the no-right-angles Porsche museum has been developing a distinctive cool factor as Berlin gets a bit overcrowded. Some good restaurants like the Georgian Tshito-Gwrito offer an alternative night out, while high flyers are delighted with some of the city’s luxurious offerings. Visitors may want to check out local, perfectly made cigars atop the Porsche Museum. Foodies may elect to head to Michelin-starred Olivo, 5 or Die Zirbelstube.
- Tbilisi – The capital of Georgia is known for its sulfur baths and great restaurants (Georgian cuisine has made inroads into some major world capitals with good reason). Old Town Tbilisi is rife with cafes and Georgian wine (made in earthen pots called qvevri, on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity). Tripsters love how off-the-beaten-path it feels, and how friendly the locals are.
Destinations Worth a Second Look ranged from Marrakech to the Florida Keys – and although they experienced the largest decline this year, they have much to offer savvy travelers bent on finding steals, deals and smaller crowds for their next adventures.
The list includes:
Seppeltsfield Crowned Global Best of Wine Tourism