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VOL. 131 | NO. 259 | Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Consider These Disappearing Destinations

BY LANCE WIEDOWER, Special to The Daily News

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See places before they disappear. One of the top travel trends for 2017 focuses on experiences that are likely to change in the near future. That includes Cuba, which also was at the top of travel trends for 2016. But destinations experiencing change also includes those brought on by climate change.

Reports of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia changing and possibly disappearing aren’t new. Warmer surface waters in the Coral Sea saw bleached reefs in 2016, and fears are that the reefs will be dramatically changed decades from now.

Changes underway near the South and North poles could have long-range impacts on those regions, as well as rising sea levels that could impact coastal regions around the world.

In its report of the biggest travel trends to watch in 2017, U.S. News & World Report quotes USA Today columnist Everett Potter, who says people will want to “see places before they are completely changed.”

Virtuoso is a network of luxury travel agencies. In its 2017 Virtuoso Luxe Report, the organization forecasts emerging travel developments and top destinations based on a survey of its travel advisers. And its top recommendation agrees with the idea of visiting disappearing destinations, including Cuba and the Arctic.

Alaska and a number of its top destinations are experiencing real change. Exit Glacier in Kanai Fjords National Park, for example, has receded two miles over the past 200 years, according to a National Park Service report. Warming temperatures have caused it to lose more ice than it gains annually.

The World Tourism Organization has appointed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, so look for an ecotourism focus in various destinations next year.

But not all 2017 travel trends are based on fear of what might disappear or change. Virtuoso’s other recommendations include adventure travel, exclusive experiences, local-food experiences and cruises that match a specific preference.

One trend for the cruise industry, reports Cruise Critic, will see older ships modernized and upgraded. River cruises will see more active offerings such as bike excursions. Theme cruises also will grow in 2017, in part to lure in more millennials. And as that generation is now the largest in history, the tourism industry shifts more of its focus there.

But with all this said, 2017 travel trends will be what you want them to be.

I don’t plan my travel around hot destinations. If anything, I plan to not go to hot destinations.

In 2017, my personal hope is to find at least one new destination that makes me think differently. Travel is the great equalizer. What I mean is, the more we travel the more we’re exposed to different cultures. That exposure brings understanding, compassion and knowing.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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