Never go back, they say. But while it’s true that you may be disappointed if you try to recapture the past, one of the most rewarding aspects of travel is to return to a favourite place and see how it has changed – how it reveals a new dimension or an unexpected side to its character.
So in optimistic anticipation of the re-opening of the world next year, we have asked our experts to update us on what has been happening in your favourite destinations over the past couple of years – and what there is to look forward to when you finally head back to the places you love.
They have found plenty for you to get your teeth into. Take New Zealand, a perennial favourite, which topped our last Reader Awards in 2019. Omicron willing, international travel is – at last – expected to restart in spring 2022 and according to Bryn Reade, visitors to the Land of the Long White Cloud will find a host of new experiences, with a special emphasis on environmental knowledge and also the insights offered by “Maori-led” tourism.
Meanwhile, Japan, your second favourite, had a disappointing Olympics from a tourism point of view, but once it re-opens, the investment looks as though it will pay dividends. Danielle Demetriou says a vast number of new hotels have opened in the past two years as well as more subtle developments, such as rural art projects.
Completing the top three, that paradise of island escapism, the Maldives, has also been busy. Remarkably, some 13 new island resorts opened during the pandemic and a dozen more new arrivals are expected in 2022.
Other favourite destinations which have invested heavily in tourism include Greece, where a plethora of stylish hotels has opened, and Uganda, which has several impressive new lodges. Costa Rica has a new national park, San Lucas, which few overseas visitors have yet managed to see.
And if that doesn’t sound energetic enough for you, how about Bhutan’s new 250-mile trek, the Trans Bhutan Trail? It would be a fascinating way to explore a country which – of all your favourites – makes a virtue of the fact that it changes so little.
Those are just some tasters – for the full menu, read on. Today marks the first in our four-part series, with a new selection of destinations to look forward to tomorrow, and every day following until the 1st. All in all, once we get omicron nailed, there is an awful lot to look forward to.
1. New Zealand
The Land of the Long White Cloud held the title of your most beloved country consistently from 2012 until 2019. So, apart from the mountains, fjords, rivers, lakes, marine life, ancient forests, volcanoes, great walks, beaches, wine, friendly locals and bungee jumping, why did Telegraph readers keep voting New Zealand their favourite long-haul travel destination?
There is so much to see and do, but of course, since March 2020, it has been hardly anyone’s destination. In 2019, 3.8 million people visited; by the end of the following year numbers were down by 75 per cent. And 2021 has been even worse.
But all that is about to change when we welcome the return of our international whanau (family) on April 30 2022 (omicron, pi, sigma, tau, upsilon, etc, notwithstanding).
In the interim, the country’s operators have taken the opportunity to rethink the tourism model. “We’ve trained our crew in environmental restoration,” says Juhi Shareef of Tourism Holdings Ltd, which conducts tours of natural attractions such as the glowworm-filled caves at Waitomo in the North Island. “Our black-water rafting guides, for example, better understand the Waitomo Caves ecosystem and can pass this knowledge on to our visitors in the spirit of kaitiakitanga – shared guardianship – of New Zealand’s natural environment.”