At last month’s U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) annual conference, a hot topic of conversation was destinations to watch in 2012. Some of the most interesting speculation was centered around which places had the greatest potential for tourism growth this year. So as we start 2012, here are some of the top “bounce-back” destinations the industry is talking about.
Egypt: It’s amazing to think that, just a year or so ago, Egypt was one of the hottest destinations in the travel industry, with tour operators adding itineraries and river cruise companies eagerly putting ships on the Nile River. While Egypt’s Arab Spring is historic for the Egyptian people, there is no doubt that it has currently devastated the country’s tourism industry. This lack of tourism is great for the relatively small number of travelers who are going there to experience world-class historic sites without the crowds, but tour operators are hoping that, by the end of this year, travelers will once again see Egypt as a stable destination.
Japan: Last spring, Japan suffered one of the worst disasters in the nation’s history when an earthquake triggered a tsunami and a major nuclear crisis. Japan is clearly ready and able to once again welcome tourists — making it a strong bounce-back candidate in 2012. Aside from the relatively small area directly near the nuclear power plant, the country’s infrastructure is intact, the people are appreciative to have visitors return and, best of all for travelers, there are amazing deals to be had.
Myanmar: One of the most talked about countries at the USTOA conference, Myanmar has enormous tourism potential in 2012. Recent political changes in the country bode well for a new era in international relations which, in turn, could result in more Western visitors to the country. The exotic and intriguing reputation of the country will be alluring to travelers looking for bragging rights and a chance to experience something out of the ordinary. It would not be surprising to see a record year for tourism to Myanmar in 2012.