Travel trends
Picture of Jay Harlow
Jay Harlow

Travel Copywriter

As a travel content writer, here are my predictions for the 6 destinations to watch in 2024. These are all based on my decade-long experience in the travel industry and my observations over the last 12 months.

The places definitely aren’t scraped from other content out there. That’s just not my style. So, here’s my opinion of where could be big in 2024. 

Table of contents

1. El Salvador

The once ‘murder capital of the world’ has been transformed into one of the safest countries in the Americas.

In 2015, El Salvador had the world’s highest homicide rates, peaking at 106 murders per 10,000 people. The dangerous situation on the ground meant the country was pretty much off bounds for international tourists. Fast forward to 2024, and things have changed completely. According to the latest government figures, there are now just 2 murders per 10,000 people.

I took this picture of San Salvador from my hotel room when I was visiting in 2014 - I was too scared to leave the hotel - lots of guns!

This puts El Salvador second only to Canada for homicide rates across the American continent. The country’s striking transformation is due to President Nayib Bukele’s strict crackdown on gang crime. Daily life has improved so much for Salvadorans that Bukele won a landslide reelection in early 2024. That means the security situation is likely to keep getting better. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Bukele’s aggressive approach has raised concerns over human rights abuses and freedom of speech.

El Salvador’s newfound safety opens up the country for international travel. Tourists can now visit places that were once no-go zones, such as the charming colonial capital, San Salvador. I actually spent two nights there in 2014. This was at the peak of its crime crisis and even McDonald’s had armed guards outside. Now things have changed, I’m planning a visit – and I think many people will, making El Salvador a destination to watch in 2024.

Source: BBC News.

2. Argentina

Exchanging money could get a lot easier, but could 2024 be the last year of cheap prices?

At the end of 2023, Argentina made headlines as it elected an eccentric new president, Javier Milei. His plans for the country include replacing the local currency with the US dollar. And there’d be a huge impact on international tourists if he gets his way.

A picture of the author on a trip around Argentina
A picture of a me, a travel content writer (shameless!) on a road trip in Argentina in 2023

It’d be a lot easier for visitors to spend money in the country. Restrictions on currency exchange have made getting hold of pesos a nightmare for tourists. You either have to spend hours queueing at a Western Union or risk going to an illegal currency exchange to get your hands on cash. If the country adopts the US dollar, this would no longer be the case.

But while exchanging money would be easier, expect prices to crank up. The exchange restrictions have seriously devalued the local currency over the past few years. This has made Argentina incredibly cheap for overseas travelers. However, removing these and dollarizing would likely see prices rise in line with destinations like Costa Rica and Chile. Could this spell a last-minute dash to the country before things get pricey? I think it will, and that’s why Argentina makes my list of destinations to watch in 2024.

Source:  Bloomberg.

3. Paris

All eyes will be on the City of Love as it holds the 2024 Olympics.

As the French capital gears up for the Games, we can expect major interest in this already iconic city. Euromonitor International suggest the event will boost tourism spending in Paris by 4 billion euros. This is similar to trends seen in recent host cities, Tokyo and Rio. Data reveals that hosting the Olympic Games leads to a surge in visitor numbers and spending in those destinations.

However, not all that glitters is gold. Hosting the Olympics has sparked controversy in the French capital, with many Parisians taking a negative view of the games. Concerns range from the environmental impact to crowds and high prices. A new tourist tax aimed at offsetting the cost of hosting the Games has further fueled the debate. Critics argue that it may deter visitors, which would harm the local tourism industry.

I haven't been to Paris since I was 17, so here's a stock photo.

The Games will be scattered across iconic venues in Paris, including the Champ-de-Mars Park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Billions of people around the world will be tuning into the event when it kicks off on 26th July. It’s safe to say, Paris is a destination to watch in 2024.

4. Saudi Arabia

Huge investment in tourism has seen a record number of foreign tourists visit the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as the G20 country with the biggest growth in international visitor numbers. According to the UN Tourism body, in 2023 it welcomed 156% more foreign tourists than in 2019. Tourism plays a big part in the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 plan. This initiative seeks to diversify the economy, which has historically been dependent on oil.

Until just a few years ago, visiting Saudi Arabia as a tourist was practically impossible. The visa process was cumbersome and limited to business travelers, religious pilgrims, and a few other categories. That all changed in 2018, though. The country relaxed its entry requirements and began promoting itself as a must-visit destination.

A picture of AlUla attraction to demonstrate Saudi Arabia's tourist attractions
Al Ula is one of Saudi's the most popular sights - I'd love to go

I’ve even noticed this investment in my work. As a travel copywriter, last year I wrote several pieces commissioned by the Saudi Tourism Authority. They’re keen to promote the country’s diversity. From the Al-Ula ancient archaeological site to Jeddah’s cosmopolitan beach vibes, Saudi – as they style it – certainly boasts variety. This huge drive to attract international tourists is why it makes my list of destinations to watch in 2024.

5. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

The new Tren Maya will show there’s more to the region than the resorts around Cancun.

The Yucatan Peninsula is on the brink of a major new era in tourism with the arrival of the new Tren Maya. Stretching 900 miles (1500 km), the rail route links Cancun to lesser-known destinations across five Mexican states. This colossal feat of engineering opens up a region rich in Mayan heritage and verdant jungle terrain.

While the benefits are clear for tourists and those who work in the industry, the Tren Maya has been controversial. Many are concerned about the environmental impact. Large swathes of jungle have been deforested to make way for the tracks, causing numerous species to lose their habitat. The region’s famous cenotes – underground cave and river networks – are at risk of contamination, too. Critics also question the cost of the project. The Tren Maya came in three times over budget, costing a total of US $28.5 billion.

A picture of the author at the Tuloum ruins to demonstrate the Tulum ruins
Here's me in the purple t-short checking out Tulum in 2016

It’s a tough one, that’s for sure. Either way, the Tren Maya has been built, and so I guess it’s best to reap the benefits from it. I’ve been to the Yucatan Peninsula many times and have always deplored how most tourists stick to all-inclusive resorts. There’s a lot more to the area than Chichen Itza and Tulum. The archaeological site of Palenque and the colonial city of Merida come to mind.

Source: BBC News

6. Japan

Tokyo and Osaka where two of the most searched for destinations in 2023.

Although I feel like I’m jumping on the bandwagon, you can’t deny Japan is the world’s hottest destination right now. Major online travel platforms all reported Japanese cities as the most searched and booked destinations in 2023. These include Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor. And why this sudden peak in interest? Well, having been closed to foreign tourists for 1000 days, there’s a lot of pent-up demand.

Another reason for the Japan boom is the now-favourable exchange rate, too. When I last went to Japan in 2019, $1 USD was approx ¥100, whereas $1 USD is now worth ¥150 (March 2024). The cost of living crisis has also been much kinder on the country, too. This means foreign tourists are getting a lot more bang for their buck in Japan. For a country that was once considered expensive, you can now visit on a budget.

A photo of the author and their colleagues having dinner in Tokyo to demonstrate Japan knowledge
Here's me with colleagues on a fam trip to Japan in 2019. This was sushi making tour.

Mass tourism isn’t without its problems, though. A recent article in The Guardian talks about the challenges the huge influx of tourists is causing for local residents. I can’t imagine how things are there now. When I visited the famous Fushimi Inari shrine back in 2019, it was impossible to get up close due to the hordes. It wasn’t like that on my visit in 2015. Regardless, the Japanese government will continue to promote its country, making it a destination to watch in 2024.

Source: The Guardian

So what do you reckon? Do these destinations appeal to you? Have you been? Let me know in the comments.

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