So.Where Next for the Demanding Britabroad?; While South Africa Could Be the New Florida, You Should Consider Croatia and Southern Italy While South Africa Could Be the New Florida, You Should Consider Croatia and Southern Italy
Barrett, Frank, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)
Byline: FRANK BARRETT
Which is going to be the big new destination of the year?
People used to ask this question a lot. It always struck me as rather strange - as if a new country might suddenly emerge from beneath the sea, fully formed and ready to welcome holidaymakers.
Occasionally, countries do make a new appearance in package holiday brochures, but not since Turkey made such a big impact on the travel scene in the Eighties has there been any significant addition to the usual line-up of holiday hot spots.
Twenty years ago, for example, the two most popular holiday destinations were Spain and France, which each attracted more than three million visitors annually.
These countries still dominate the market - but now they each welcome about 12 million UK visitors every year.
Twenty years ago, Italy was in third place - now the United States has climbed to the number three spot from 12th, while Italy has dropped to sixth.
Over two decades, Greece has gone from fourth to fifth position, while Portugal has slumped from fifth to tenth place. Some relatively small-scale movements, but largely our favourite countries have barely altered in 20 years - the only thing that has changed significantly is the volume of travel.
According to Government statistics, we now make 58.3 million trips abroad every year, with two-thirds of these (nearly 39 million) for holidays - a total which seems to go on growing despite events such as the terrorist attacks in America on September 11, 2001. Our overseas holiday-taking has trebled in just 20 years - a phenomenal growth rate and a huge change in our lives that largely seems to have been taken for granted.
Two decades ago, going abroad was still a 'Big Thing' - now it's commonplace.
New destinations are always reckoned to be on the point of breaking through.
There have long been hopes that the Red Sea and the Gulf might have the potential to become mass-market destinations.
But while the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and the Gulf state of Dubai, for example, are attractive holiday places, until the Middle East finds a peaceful equilibrium, the region is never going to achieve mass-market status.
Hopes of the caribbean developing as a major holiday spot have foundered on the issue of quality, while new places, such as the Dominican Republic, have suffered from trying to do too much too soon and too cheaply.
Cuba, which has plenty of good-quality accommodation, has inevitably suffered from its recent olitical troubles with the United States and, more recently, from its association with terrorism through the publicity given to captives held at the American base in Guantanamo Bay.
Tour operators tried to feature Brazil as a sun-and-sand scene a few years ago, but the idea didn't seem to appeal.
But if South Africa can provide better guarantees of tourist safety, then it may become the new Florida (if, indeed, it would like to be the new Florida).
Australia, which has replaced America as our dream destination, is just too far away to be feasible as a major UK holiday location. …