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What’s hot in travel destinations for 2011

February 01, 2011

Signs are showing that leisure travel plans by U.S. citizens are making a comeback.

Polling done by TripAdvisor and Travel Ticker found that 90 percent of Americans will take two or more leisure trips this year.

With leisure travel bouncing back, now is a grand time to start thinking of the world as your oyster. And there are plenty of pearls out there for the discriminating and adventuresome traveler.

So where to go? Get ready for some surprises. Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager says research conducted by her newspaper found some of the hot travel destinations for 2011. They include:

Syrian Ruins
Some of the ruins you will see in the Syrian desert

Syria. Yes, Syria, home to Damascus, the world’s oldest continuously functioning city. The southern site of Bosra offers a good starting-point. Travel site Peregrine Adventures asks us to imagine an alien landscape of stark volcanic plains where vestiges of the Roman Empire still stand. History and nature come together in this Arab country and provides visitors with staggers sights. There are the remains of “dead cities,” Palmyra ruins, and the imposing crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers. For those with an affinity for ancient history, Syria dazzles in its variety and diversity.

Turkey. Talk about history, Turkey has been inhabited by human cultures for 25,000 years and has the antiquities to prove it. Think Mongols, Ottomans, Romans, Byzantines and Greeks. Turkey Travel Planner says Americans will find the country friendly, beautiful, culturally rich and a good value for the money. Turkey is one of the world’s top 10 travel destinations, welcoming more than 23 million tourists a year.

Corfu, Greece. The island of Corfu is located just off the west coast of Greece and has a mild Mediterranean climate along with excellent beaches, making it a popular destination. Agni Travel reports that Corfu is very green compared to other Greek islands – hot and dry summers along with winter rain creates lush vegetation which is dominated by more than 2 million olive trees. Prepare to enjoy long, lazy Taverna lunches replete with good food and wine. Take dips into the sea and experience complete relaxation. If you’re searching for a little more action you will not be disappointed. Corfu is an island of diverse contrast.

Sicily. Hailed as the world’s first multicultural society, this island is Italy’s most historically cosmopolitan region, having been ruled by Asians, Africans and Europeans. Sicily is black and white and a million shades of gray. The Best of Sicily travel site claims there’s no other place on Earth like it, because Sicily is an island where European, African and Asian influences all come together. It’s full of art, archeology, history, folklore and breathtaking scenery. And, of course, there’s the great food and wine.

Victoria Falls in Zambia
Victoria Falls in Zambia

Zambia. Do you like wildlife? Zambia is the land of the legendary African walking safari, as well as home to Victoria Falls, the wild Zambezi River, breathtaking lakes and wetlands. The Zambia Tourism website says visitors will find a profusion of birds, abundant wildlife, and raw pulsating wilderness. Blessed with 17 magnificent waterfalls apart from the spectacular Victoria Falls, Zambia offers tours to “cascade followers” into the remote undeveloped rural areas where you can get a glimpse of village life. Zambia has the largest water resources in the whole of southern Africa with five massive lakes and plentiful rivers offering excellent fishing.

West Africa. This region is comprised of 16 countries that include Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The first-time traveler to West Africa quickly learns what a mockery the region makes of maps. Transitions Abroad says state-of-the-art transportation infrastructure is not what draws people to West Africa. Instead, they seek raw adventure writ large: sand-swept Saharan caravan outposts, virgin jungles, sleepy fishing villages, markets and heady music that resonates the diverse vitality of countless tribal and ethnic groups. Against the backdrop of state failure and poverty, Africans have learned to improvise, relying on family and friends to move forward yet always ready to welcome outsiders. The unfortunate stigma of instability that has prevented many Westerners from experiencing the region’s cultural and natural riches has allowed certain myths to persist. In West Africa intrepid travelers can have the rare experience of the outsider without being alone. For better or worse, there is never a dull moment.

Sri Lanka. Lonely Planet says that when the noted writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, made his home in Sri Lanka in 1956 he claimed the island jewel of the Indian Ocean was the best place in the world from which to view the universe. Sri Lanka is now making a comeback after the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Equipped with a stellar combination of scenery, culture and history, Sri Lanka is firmly back on the radar for curious travelers seeking unique experiences. This destination is fringed by an array of gently arcing golden-sand beaches. There are also artificial reservoirs built by the first Sinhalese rulers around the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Pollonaruwa, as well as waterfalls and verdant tea plantations.

As with all foreign travel, we urge you to always check with the U.S. Department of State for any travel alerts. Check out the State Department’s current travel warnings.

If you prefer to stay closer to home this year, you’ll be in good company as well. California tourism is expected to grow about 4 percent this year, and the San Francisco Bay Area is always a hotspot.

If you’re interested in Bay Area travel check out San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau site. And if you’re thinking about paying us a visit at The Rose Hotel, be sure to spent time on the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau site as well.

Safe and happy travels.