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The Comeback Countries – Where we’re Travelling in 2024

2023 can safely be called the year that travel came roaring back, with bookings for certain destinations superseding pre-pandemic numbers. Community tourism pioneer, G Adventures, this year reveals the places that are seeing the most traction in terms of forward bookings thanks to exciting new reasons to visit.

What’s most exciting is that people are looking to travel to some more ‘traditional’ destinations in a new way – a way that gives back to local people and communities, and gets them closer to the culture and tradition of a place. 

G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, says travellers have changed over the past three years and are now looking for deeper, more meaningful experiences. 

“What we’re seeing is that people want to stay longer and go deeper into a destination. They’re travelling less frequently; instead of taking three one-week trips a year, they’re staying longer in a single destination. And while they are there they want to connect with local people and their cultures, and to experience community tourism in its purest form. 

“We’re also still seeing a lot of travellers checking off those big ‘bucket list’ trips, with many still making up for lost time, and they’re keen to stay active when they travel – that’s why we’re seeing such huge growth in some of our most iconic locations,” said Mr. Poon Tip.  

Packed with the best destinations travellers can enjoy in 2024, the Where To Travel list focuses not just on meaningful community tourism experiences, but also places which have new and noteworthy reasons to visit. 

JAPAN – Travellers can’t get enough of Japan since it reopened, with the land of the rising sun also seeing rising bookings. G Adventures reports a 134 per cent increase in bookings for 2024, and this trend is set to continue with the launch of the small group adventure operator’s Geluxe Collection of premium active trips. The new Japan itinerary includes hiking the remote Michinoku Coastal Trail, which was constructed after the tsunami to bring community tourism back to Iwate. G Adventures is the first major operator to offer this hike.

GET THERE: G Adventures’ Japan: Kyoto, Tokyo & the Michinoku Coastal Trail trip is priced from €6999pp for an 11-day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. Travellers will discover villages outside Kyoto by foot, as well as hiking up to the Unotori shrine in Fudai, Iwate, to witness a unique cultural performance that has all but died out in other parts of Japan.

 PORTUGAL – The numbers don’t lie. Portugal has seen stand-out growth with traveller numbers tripling since 2019 and up 33 per cent compared to 2022. Affordable and accessible, with fantastic food, culture and history, there are plenty of reasons to want to visit this European gem. We say go before it gets even more popular, as its star looks set to continue to rise. 

GET THERE: G Adventures’ Highlights of Portugal itinerary is priced from €1299pp for a seven-day trip from Lisbon to Porto. On this trip, travellers will sit down to a traditional meal to the sound of a Fado performance by Portuguese folk music artists in one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods, and immerse themselves in history and culture at UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Monastery of Batalha, Coimbra University, and the picturesque town of Sintra.

UZBEKISTAN – Uzbekistan – and the ‘Stans in general – have become quite the hotspot as people look to check off big ‘bucket list’ destinations and get further afield to lesser-known countries. Uzbekistan has seen a 53 per cent increase year over year, also usurping 2019 by 16 percent. The stunning Center for Islamic Civilization in Tashkent is set to open its doors in April 2024, and joins the Center for Contemporary Arts, which was opened in 2019, as two new cultural hubs set to attract the attention of travellers. 

GET THERE: G Adventures’ Highlights of Uzbekistan trip is priced from €1549pp for a 10-day trip from Tashkent return. During the trip, travellers will head out into the desert to visit Chashma Complex, a pilgrimage site in the territory of Nurata, dominated by ruins of Alexander the Great’s fortress, visit the remote Aydarkul Lake for a swim before continuing on for an overnight stay in a local yurt camp, where they enjoy an authentic Uzbekistan dinner and an evening Kazakh singing show.

 INDIA – India has picked up the pace in the past year with bookings doubling between 2022 and 2023. G Adventures partnership with National Geographic means exclusive experiences are built into every itinerary. 

GET THERE: National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures North India Highlights trip is priced from €1199 per person from Delhi return. In Jaipur, known as the “Pink City,” travellers will meet with a local historian and sociology scholar to learn about India’s complex social fabric and traditions, and discuss a range of topics from the country’s belief systems to its architecture.

MEXICO – Vibrant and colourful Mexico has proven more popular than pre-pandemic, helped by the introduction of new trips to the G Adventures portfolio. These include two new Geluxe Collection premium active itineraries, which put a fresh active spin on what has been seen as a more traditional ‘beach’ destination. Up 24 per cent than in 2019, and 28 per cent when compared to last year, Mexico continues to make consistent gains. 

GET THERE: A 14-day Mexico: Central Mexico & the Yucatan Peninsula trip is priced from €5399pp, travelling from Oaxaca to Tulum. Travellers will wander the cobblestone streets and markets of Oaxaca and devour mole in Puebla, before biking through agave fields and taking a break from the heat with a swim in a jungle sinkhole near Merida. 

VIETNAM – Another country that was late to reopen but has doubled its traveller numbers since 2022 is Vietnam, which is also a great value choice for families looking for adventure on their next trip. With tasty food, beautiful sights and friendly people, it makes a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about a different culture in a fun and engaging way.

GET THERE: A 12-day Vietnam Family Adventure is priced from €1379 per adult and €1219 per child, travelling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. This trip visits Oodles of Noodles, a G for Good project supporting former street youth where travellers help prepare and cook a number of different types of noodles. 

 GREECE – As travellers have started flocking back to Europe, Greece has seen huge growth, up 90 per cent from 2019 numbers and 24 per cent year on year. One of the best ways to avoid the crowds and get amongst it with locals, is by boat. Taking travellers to remote islands to enjoy local cuisine and culture, G Adventures’ Sailing programme epitomises community tourism, making sure wealth is distributed to lesser-known locales while still taking in the highlights of the islands.

GET THERE: A 10-day Sailing Greece – Santorini to Santorini trip is priced from €1849 per person, travelling from Santorini return. On-shore experiences include strolling through the markets of Syros, uncovering the beauty of the Venetian ruins in Paros hiking through the trails and paths of Sifnos. 

THAILAND – Thailand also continues its epic comeback, and we can expect it to boom even more as travellers head there before the ‘White Lotus Effect’ takes hold, with filming for the third season set to begin in 2024. Up 76 per cent in traveller numbers year on year, Thailand is still a solid choice for young travellers and backpackers looking for an affordable escape. 

GET THERE: The Bangkok to Hanoi: Chiang Mai, Night Markets & Streetside Bars Roamies trip in partnership with Hostelworld is priced from €899pp for a nine day trip from Bangkok to Hanoi. This trip includes a visit to Yimsoo Cafe in Bangkok that offers training and economic opportunities for people living with disabilities. 

SOUTH KOREA – With Asia trending since its reopening, South Korea has also proven a welcome surprise in terms of its popularity with numbers doubling in 2023 compared to 2019. Helped by popular culture – K-Pop and K-dramas – South Korea also offers a wealth of traditional culture, incredible food, and exciting experiences for travellers. 

GET THERE: An eight-day Best of South Korea trip is priced from €2499 per person, travelling from Seoul return. Travellers will see the highlights in and around Seoul plus visit folk villages, unique Korean temples, and the bustling markets of Busan, as well as learning about the sombre history of North and South Korea and taking an excursion to the Demilitarized Zone separating the two. 

ITALY – Another popular post-Covid destination is Italy, which is up 30 per cent from 2019 numbers, and 24 per cent year on year. With travellers looking to head to their dream destinations, it makes sense that perennial favourite Italy would be high on everyone’s lists. With G Adventures’ Local Living programme, travellers are taken off the road most travelled to really experience what it is like to live like a local. 

GET THERE: An eight-day Local Living Italy—Amalfi Coast trip is priced from €1849 per person, travelling from Naples return. On this trip, travellers live like one of the region’s locals, discovering the small towns, mountain trails, and local customs of this uniquely beautiful place, tucking into bed at a converted 17th-century monastery home base.

For more information on G Adventures, please visit www.gadventures.com

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