The past year has consisted of turmoil, terror, and most importantly, change. As the year draws to a close, let’s take a look at how travel and tourism across the world have altered. Which countries experienced an increase of people passing through their borders, and where have people been sceptical to return to?
With the ever-accumulating terror attacks and expanding war zones, many countries have found their tourism sectors completely shattered. Turkey, a once popular destination for many Brits and Germans, is now a place feared by many. Dozens of higher education institutions have abandoned ties with Turkish universities, deeming it too unsafe a country to send their students to. Whilst many travel companies do still advertise their all-inclusive package holidays to Turkey, the prices have been slashed for a reason — people are just not visiting. It begs the question as to whether or not travel companies will have to stop trips to Turkey altogether, just as Thomson have done with Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt. Flights to the city have been cancelled until the end of March 2017, and afterwords will only operate on a reduced schedule. Their decision comes after the FCO warned against all but essential travel to Egypt. Even though the suspension will last just a few months, it is very unlikely that Egypt will have the tourists it is used to once it is lifted.
However, one coastal town that is hopeful it can still attract tourists, is the Syrian beach resort of Tartus. Unheard of to most, Tartus was once a thriving holiday destination for Syrians across the country. However, this has drastically altered since the civil war began in 2011. A recent push from the Syrian Tourist Board is hoping to attract new visitors, but with the disaster in Aleppo and continuing civil unrest, this is going to be a tough call. Unfortunately, the rest of Syria is unlikely to recover from the conflict. Once home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these have sadly been destroyed during years of fighting.
Syria however is not the only country to be unsettled by inner turmoil. Germany has been experiencing its own share of crises. For the British, getting to Germany is quick, cheap and easy, with a flight to the capital costing as little as £30 return and taking under an hour. However, Berlin, like many other of Germany’s popular cities, has been the latest victim of IS-claimed terror attacks. In 2016, Germany experienced seven attacks, including a stabbing and multiple bombings. The country is quickly becoming a hotbed for conflict, which experts fear will continue into next year. Because so many of Germany’s cities have been targeted, tourists are now venturing to the country with increased trepidation — with some choosing not to go at all. The same predicament applies to other large cities in Europe, including Paris and Brussels, who have fallen victim to terrorist attacks.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, however much it may seem that way. For Britain in particular, many companies are looking towards other, previously ‘unknown’ places in Europe, in light of the attacks on popular destinations. In 2016, countries such as Albania and Slovenia have been appearing a lot more on travel websites, with short breaks available for relatively cheap. Lake Bled in Slovenia in particular, has had increased advertising, and when you look at the picturesque images of it (combined with an appealing price) it’s not hard to see why. Albanian beach holidays are also on the rise; the geographical location of the country means it experiences warm summers and mild autumn/winters, and by still using its own currency it won’t dent your pocket too much either.
Geographical location also influences the next destination on our ‘travel roundup’: Iceland. The Northern Lights have been particularly strong and spectacular this year, prompting more visitors, and reduced flight fares. Whilst the country itself does remain rather expensive in terms of food, drink and accommodation, it seems that the pull of the amazing light show and other attractions — such as the geysers and thermal baths — are enough to entice a steady influx of visitors.
With the crazy year that 2016 has been, it’s hard to say what countries will next be affected in terms of tourism. IS-claimed attacks continue to happen worldwide; the Zika virus is still a problem across South America, recently being announced in Cuba too; and a controversial, often offensive, president-elect will soon take charge of the U.S.A. On the plus side, cheaper, more frequent flights to Southeast Asia and a simplified visa process for entering Australia, could all mean that travellers will consider new destinations and venture further afield. On the whole, 2017 is likely to be another interesting and unpredictable year for travel.