This is probably one of our favorite issues when everyone on our editorial staff—including yours truly—gets the opportunity to sit down and reflect on all the destination coverage we’ve done in the previous year and pick out what we think is going to be the hot destinations for 2012.
The amazing thing is, there’s always a surprise for all of us, particularly in terms of the niche markets when we analyze what we’ve heard from tour operators, cruise lines and resort properties. What hasn’t been a surprise—because we saw the trend occurring last year—was Latin America. Still, the growth in product there is amazing, as you’ll see in our feature on page 52, “The Lowdown on South America’s Capital Highs,” with sales to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador going through the roof as compared to previous years. Even the cruise components to Latin America are offering more itineraries to meet demand.
River cruising continues to grow at an incredible rate with more and more ships adding inventory to not only traditional destinations in Europe, but also to Asia, where demand is exploding on the Mekong with sales to Vietnam and Cambodia spilling out of traveler’s bucket lists like the proverbial cornucopia. New entries into that market like Uniworld have already ordered a new ship for 2013 because its sales for 2012—whose first cruise won’t even happen until January—are so strong, they need a second ship to meet demand.
That product seems to leap frog in terms of destination appeal. Travelers take one or two river cruises in Europe and enjoy it so much, they look for more exotic destinations in Asia and try out China or the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia. Because of that, we selected Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, as the hot new destination for Asia in 2012. With a new government and an emphasis on cleaning up their negative reputation on human rights abuses, we’re confident travelers will be tempted to take advantage of the exotic experience of cruising the Irrawaddy River and visiting remote villages and ancient palaces, pagodas and shrines—literally thousands of them throughout the country—in what up until now, has been one of the least traveled destinations in the world. You can read up on this destination and its myriad products on page 49.
And here’s another new river cruise product that’s out there in the marketplace that no one has seen before, AMAWaterway’s new Chobe River cruise in Africa, packed between three incredible packages that include South Africa, Botswana, Victoria Falls and Tanzania that no true traveler will be able to resist. Check out our river cruise feature on page 16 and prepare yourself for a healthy year of river cruise sales.
But the best thing about this issue—at least for us as travel journalists—is coming face-to-face with the reality that despite all the doom and gloom we’re all faced with on a daily basis relative to the global financial problems, the travel industry we’re all dependent on for our own livelihoods, has still got a lot of sunshine glimmering through the clouds and 2012 is looking better and better.
next month The December issue is dedicated to you, our readers, where we highlight the results of our Recommend Readers’ Choice Awards, the products and suppliers you choose as the best in industry for 2011. You’re going to have to wait until next month to see who they are, but for now, thanks to all of you who took the time to participate in the Readers’ Choice Awards survey.
Additionally, the Aruba Certified Expert Specialist Program, which was originally scheduled for this issue, has been moved to the December issue. Look for it next month, as it’s full of comprehensive information on this island-nation. Until next month, and as always, have a good read.