It’s set to be a good year for international travel. Whether you’re craving art, sports, history or fun…there’s something for everyone on this list. With the Winter Olympics and World Cup scheduled for this year, there’s obviously going to be a lot of interest in Russia and Brazil.
There was a 5% increase in international travel last year, according to the World Tourism Organization. Europe is the world’s most visited region, and had the most significant increase. This latest trend is likely to continue in 2014, giving the global economy a much needed financial boost.
So which countries were the most popular among travelers? France, the United States and China ranked highest when it came to the most visitor. The most recent information provided by The World Bank showed that France was averaging around 81.4 million visitors, the United States had 62.7 million and China had 57.5 million. We’re a bit behind with exact figures – those figures date back to 2011 – but gathering the statistics on world travel takes a while. Although the World Bank won’t have the 2012 rankings until sometime this year, and the 2013 rankings even later, the 2011 figures a fair representation of what’s happening in world travel this decade.
In this list we’re looking at the must-see attractions of 2014; some of the sites set to be the biggest tourism draws of the year, and some more off-the-beaten-track spots with a newly-acquired buzz that are set to see the biggest increase in tourism. Every event and attraction on this list is family friendly, but can also be great for couples, or solo adventurers. Whatever your reason for going on a little getaway, it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when it comes to travel. Be a jet-setter in the know with our ten biggest attractions of 2014.
10. Sochi, Russia: The 2014 Winter Olympic Games
This year will start off with a major world sporting event which will see thousands of tourists flock to Russia. The Winter Olympic Games are being held in the Russian city of Sochi in February and excitement is definitely building in the weeks leading up to the games. Three new events will be added for the first time: Ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle and the snowboard parallel special slalom. Although there have been some concerns about security at the Olympic Games – and some calls to boycott the games after some of the Russian government’s questionable policies became international knowledge there have been assurances that the venue will be completely safe. More than 30,000 law enforcement officers will be onsite to provide extra security. Let the games, begin!
9. Brazil, South America: The 2014 World Cup
Brazil is already known for its incredible beaches and mega-party atmosphere, but this year the country will serve as host to the 2014 soccer World Cup. According to FIFA, 3.2 billion people from around the world saw at least some of the World Cup competition in South Africa in 2010. That’s an astonishing 46.4% of the global population! So if you can’t get enough of football – or soccer, as it’s known in the US – head to Brazil this summer.
8. Bang Saray, Thailand: Cartoon Network’s Amazone
Bring out the inner kid in you with a trip to Thailand’s newest amusement park. The Cartoon Network is opening its first ever theme park this year, generating huge buzz in the already-popular tourist hub of Thailand. This 14-acre water park cost The Cartoon Network a cool $30 million. If you’ve ever wanted to swim with the Power Puff Girls and Johnny Bravo, now’s your chance; there are 10 fun-filled areas based on different shows from The Cartoon Network. This park is about 90 minutes away from Bangkok International Airport with plenty of hotels and accommodations to choose from in the Bang Saray area.
7. Dubai, UAE: IMG Worlds of Adventure
Opening later this year in Dubai, the IMG Worlds of Adventure will be the world’s biggest indoor theme park. There will be four main sections of the park: Marvel, Lost Valley; Dinosaur Adventure; Cartoon Network and IMG Boulevard. This park will include heart-stopping roller coasters and entertaining live events. Not only will this appeal to the fun-seekers, there will also be conference areas for large business events; what an amazing place to go for “work related” meetings.
6. Panama, Central America: The Panama Canal
Panama is definitely worth a visit this August, with huge events planned: It’s been 100 years since the completion of the Panama Canal, and there will be festivities and festivals galore to honour this historic landmark. If you travel to Panama City to celebrate this occasion, you can also check out Soberania National Park, which is great for hiking and nature lovers.
5. Riau Islands, Indonesia: Funtasy Island
If you’re an enviro-friendly person, this may be the park for you. This highly-anticipated park is set to be the largest ever eco-theme park and its launch may well be one of the biggest tourism events of the year. The 810-acre island fantasy land is 10 miles off the coast of Singapore and will have beautiful nature trails and aquaculture tours. You’ll also be able see preserved areas of the island and there’ll be hotels, villas and fine dining to add to this unique experience. Since this park won’t be open until late 2014, there’s plenty of time to book your tickets.
4. Los Angeles, USA : The Broad Museum
If you happen to be in the California area and have a passion for contemporary art, this should be added to your ‘must see’ list. Opening later this year, expectations are high for this museum. Housed in a building of stunningly futuristic architecture, there’ll be a range of art on display from the Broad Art Foundation’s collection. The museum will also feature work from artists such as Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha and others. All of this incredible artwork will be on display for public view and it won’t cost you a penny. Admission will be completely free.
3. Lake Myvatn, Iceland: Best View of the Northern Lights
Thanks to the extreme winter weather, now is a great time to see the legendary aurora borealis. According to David Phillips, operations manager for Explorers Astronomy Tours, “For the first few months of 2014 the Northern Lights are expected to put on their most spectacular display for the next decade.” One of best places in the world to see this is in Northern Iceland. Although you’ll have to brave the frigid weather, and possibly some awkward airport transfers, the trip is probably worth it for this incredible light show. Iceland has become an even more in-demand location since it was featured in Walter Mitty’s great adventure in the latest successful Ben Stiller movie.
2. Tallinn, Estonia: Titanic Museum Exhibit
Located in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe, Tallinn’s quaint little town is home to the Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour Museum. On display are different kinds of seaplanes which are housed in massive hangers. This is certainly a curve-ball on our list, but they land a top spot due to the Titanic Artifact exhibition launched at the end of 2013, which details the story of the fateful Titanic voyage. A twist on a pretty standard exposition, they also have gala dinners themed to the last night of the doomed journey of the Titanic.
1. Rwanda, East Africa: Nyungwe Forest National Park
This forests plays host to some of the most expansive biodiversity surviving in the world today. While chimps and gorillas are some of the main attractions at this park, this Rwandan forest is also home to the largest community of colobus monkeys in the world. There’s over 300 different species of birds to observe, too, and if that isn’t enough to make you flock to this rainforest, you can also take organised nature hikes and see magnificent waterfalls. Tea is a large commodity of this area, and you can sample the teas grown there and even take a tea tour. Rwanda, having overcome and moved on from its tragic past, is now one of the up and coming places to visit in 2014.
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