Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Future Tourism Cities that May Surprise You

Five Tourism Cities of the Future
By Karen Gardiner Dion for ShermansTravelBlog

As avid travelers, planning future trips is a pastime. But, going beyond the usual dream destinations, there are a few less likely places that we want to visit… but just not quite yet. Here are five cities we are looking forward to visiting… a few years from now:

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Why we want to visit: We are pretty firm believers that if JetBlue build it into their route map, the tourists will come. JetBlue began service to Haiti last year, flying to Port-au-Prince nonstop from New York City ($400 for a round-trip flight in June) and from Fort Lauderdale ($420 round-trip in June). And the hotel scene is growing, too. In 2012, the luxury Royal Oasis (from $165) opened its doors; followed by the upscale Best Western Premier (from $180) and the renovated El Rancho (from $182) in 2013. And both a Hilton and a Marriott will soon follow. Given its proximity to the United States and its pristine, undeveloped beaches, Haiti seems ripe with potential for a return to the days when it was a Caribbean hotspot. In fact, Bill and Hillary Clinton honeymooned here in the 1970s.

Why we have to wait: In spite of easier access, Haiti remains off limits for many travelers with (legitimate) concerns for safety. As recently as March, the U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning stating that “while violent crime has declined, travelers to Haiti should still exercise caution.” The country is still recovering from its devastating 2010 earthquake and, as such, infrastructure remains poor. Hotels, for the time being, are still relatively scarce and expensive, and navigating a rental car along potholed roads is tricky. 

Havana, Cuba
Why we want to visit: Perhaps to some chagrin of the Europeans and Canadians who have been happily traveling there carefree (and crowd-free) for decades, there will be a lot more Americans visiting Cuba soon. Restrictions have relaxed significantly over the past few years, opening up more possibilities to travel on “educational” visits. With the majority of the U.S. public in favor of lifting the 50 year-old trade embargo, we can safely expect to see re-established relations with Cuba in the near future.

Why we have to wait: Until the embargo is lifted, there are still strict laws against U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba. Generally, for the time being, the two ways you can do so are via an educational tour (although the issuance of those visas are currently on hold) or through a tour company such as Insight Cuba, Friendly Planet, or Abercrombie and Kent. Striking out on your own still carries a risk of criminal penalties.

Cairo, Egypt
Why we want to visit: You can’t keep a good city down, and Cairo is a great city. The attractions of the Egyptian capital scarcely need introduction. The mummies of the antiquities museum, the great pyramids of Giza, Khan al-Khalili souk and, even the noise, dust, and snarling traffic make this a city every traveler must see at least once in their life.

Why we have to wait: Sadly, the potential of the 2011 revolution has been overshadowed by political tensions and violence that has devastated the country’s tourism industry. Cairo remains unstable, with regular protests that can potentially turn violent. Egypt is in a period of transition and there are bound to be setbacks in the road ahead. But it will get there. Whether or not Cairo will ever be a comfortable place for solo female travelers to visit is, however, another story – the problem of sexual harassment predates current issues.

Damascus, Syria
Why we want to visit: Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth; home to a maze of enchanting alleyways, souks, mosques, and stories. Legend has it, for example, that, while on the road to Damascus, the Prophet Muhammad stopped in his tracks and refused to enter the city, saying that he wanted to enter paradise only once; upon death.

Why we have to wait: While the civil war rages on, entering its fourth year and having claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people, it is extremely dangerous to visit Syria right now – even though, the Four Seasons Damascus, for example, makes no mention of the war and offers room rates starting at €290 ($397). When the time to return does eventually come, there may be little left of the city that is recognizable: last year UNESCO added Damascus (and four other Syrian sites) to its World Heritage in Danger list. Earlier this year, a joint statement was released by the UN Secretary General; UNESCO Director-General, and the United Nations-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria that called for an end to the destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage; whether it has had any influence remains to be seen.

Detroit, Michigan
Why we want to visit: One of the great American cities, Detroit’s misfortunes are well-documented, but the past few years have seen a striking revival in the city’s food and culture scene. Then there’s the longer standing attractions including the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Heidelburg open-air art project, the Motown Museum, and the beautiful Belle Isle state park.


Why we have to wait: Realistically, it is reputation, fueled by clich├ęd and sensationalized images of "ruin porn," that is keeping tourists away from Detroit. Social and political tensions remain, and are probably not going to be fixed any time soon, but, for visitors, there’s no need to wait: Detroit is back in business. 

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