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Fastest-growing tourist destinations

Fastest-growing tourist destinations
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While many of us are in lockdown and can only entertain the thought of overseas travel, as more and more people get vaccinated we can start to dream of travelling again sometime in the not-too-distant future. These are the destinations that have been booming – some will astound you!

Palestinian territories – up 58 percent

Palestinian territories – up 58 percent
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An unlikely front-runner, the Palestinian territories consisting of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip saw a strong surge in tourism over the past year. The spike was (at least partly) driven by the opening of the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, which flaunts rooms customised by the likes of Banksy, Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin. Other attractions include numerous historically significant archaeological, historical and religious sites.

Egypt – up 51 percent

Egypt – up 51 percent
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Given that political unrest and terror attacks continue to plague Egypt – not to mention UK and Russian flight bans – it may come as a surprise that it made the list. From the Nile (the world’s second longest river) and colossal Pyramids of Giza to the trove of antiquities at the Egyptian Museum and the beach resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, the lure of the land has globe-trotters taking the risk.

Northern Mariana Islands – up 37 percent

Northern Mariana Islands – up 37 percent
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The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a 15-island archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. Travellers are flocking to this paradise of sunny skies, powdery sand, crystal-clear waters, coral reefs and mountains. Experts attribute the uptick in tourism to the Marianas Visitors Authority’s 2017 marketing campaign “Paradise for Everyone” as well as the TV series Game of Thrones, which was filmed on the island.

Iceland – up 35 percent

Iceland – up 35 percent
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Situated on the southern edge of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is known for its majestic terrain – volcanoes, glaciers, turquoise lagoons, lava fields, thermal hot springs, black sand beaches and waterfalls. Beyond the allure of its natural scenery, the recent rise in tourism has been further bolstered by Icelandair Stopover, a policy that allows passengers flying across the Atlantic to explore the Nordic island nation for up to seven nights at no additional airfare cost.

Tunisia – up 33 percent

Tunisia – up 33 percent
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Tunisia’s Mediterranean coast, cosmopolitan capital, and ancient ruins of Carthage have attracted visitors since the 1960s. But after 2015 terror attacks, travel decreased significantly. Now, the North African nation is rebounding – triggering a much-needed boost for the crippled tourism industry.

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Vietnam – up 31 percent

Vietnam – up 31 percent
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With its bamboo forests, terraced rice fields, golden shores, bustling cities and rich culture, it’s no wonder Vietnam is gaining notoriety as a top holiday destination in Southeast Asia. The 1,000-mile long North-South Railway – often referred to as the Reunification Express – takes passengers on a picturesque route from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south. Vietnam is also emerging as an epicurean hot spot with a diversity of authentic dishes. The best places to sample local cuisine? Traditional open-air markets and street food stalls located throughout the country.

Uruguay – up 30 percent

Uruguay – up 30 percent
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Bordered by Argentina, Brazil, Río de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean, Uruguay is defined by its temperate climate, lush inland landscape, and sandy shores – from the colourful capital of Montevideo to popular resort town of Punta del Este. Political stability, economic development and affordability add to its appeal. Plus, Uruguay is one of only two South American countries not affected by Zika.

Nicaragua – up 28 percent

Nicaragua – up 28 percent
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Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua is blessed with a bounty of lakes, volcanoes, beaches and islands. Thanks to its year-round warm weather, the Central American nation is also making an impression on jet-setters looking to escape the cold. Best of all, it’s also ultra-affordable, meaning you can travel in first-class style for cheap – and there are even more deals during the off-season.

This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest.

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