Joanna Booth takes a look at the destinations set to fly in 2013


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Crystal balls are notoriously unreliable, but that doesn’t stop us dusting them off at the end of every year and peering inside to see what the future might bring. Travel Weekly has surveyed the travel industry to discover the destinations set to be popular in 2013.

MEXICO



It’s no wonder plenty of people are shouting arriba arriba for Mexico, and in particular the Mayan Riviera. Since the end of 2010, when British Airways launched a direct flight to Cancun, UK visitor numbers have experienced double-digit growth, and 2012 looks nailed on to be a bumper year.

2013 should follow suit, as Virgin Atlantic increases the frequency of its direct flight, which launched in July, to three times a week, from April. Add to that the fact that Thomson has chosen Cancun as a launch route for its Dreamliner super-aircraft, which will start flying from May 1, and you’ve got a strong gust of wind beneath Mexico’s wings.

It’s not just the airlift. An abundance of competitively-priced, high quality hotels offering all-inclusive packages has seen Mexico’s east coast steal market share from the Caribbean islands, pushing it into fifth position in Hayes & Jarvis’ Top 10 destinations list. Will it be even higher next year?

SRI LANKA



The woes of this teardrop-shaped Indian Ocean beauty seem well behind it. The 26-year internal conflict that rendered the north and east of the island off-limits to tourists ended in 2009, and things have been on the up ever since, with Cox & Kings reporting a 60% increase in passenger numbers this year compared with 2010.

An international airport is due to open in the south, and new accommodation options are coming thick and fast. Jetwing Hotels, the largest hotel operator in Sri Lanka, has six more properties coming by 2014, and Aitken Spence another four. Thailand’s Minor Hotel Group has debuted its boutique brand, Avani, on the island.

Pasikuda, on the east coast, is seeing exciting new developments, with boutique option Uga Bay, five-star The Beach House coming in February and a four-star from Centara opening in March.

Big brands are getting in on the act, with Six Senses set to come to the island, Hyatt International developing a Hyatt Regency in Colombo and Shangri-La slated to open two properties, in Colombo and in the south at Hambantota.

An increase in airlift will bring plenty of Brits to fill these rooms. BA will begin flying to Sri Lanka, via Malé, from March 31 – also opening up the island as a convenient twin-centre with the Maldives. The fact it was named best-value long-haul destination by the Post Office can’t hurt, either.

THE US



It seems that everyone loves the States right now – and there’s little doubt the favourable dollar-sterling exchange rate is playing a huge part in this. But it’s not all about the green. Even though old favourites such as city breaks to New York and family holidays to Florida are still popular, there’s an appetite for getting off the beaten track – and perhaps this is another key to America’s current success.

Exploring in the land of the free and the home of the brave is easy and unthreatening, so tourists feel safe heading off on their own. Tailor Made Travel has seen self-drives increase in popularity, and Audley Travel has launched a US programme with a range of more unusual destinations.

Cinematography can sell holidays, so 2013 blockbusters could play their part in helping UK tourists make some adventurous selections. Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic could send travellers heading for Virginia – the state tourism office has already created a Lincoln Movie Trail in anticipation. The release of Catching Fire, the second film in the Hunger Games trilogy, should be a boon for Hawaii, as much of the action is filmed on Oahu.

VIETNAM



On January 27 it will be 40 years since the peace treaty ending the Vietnam War was signed, and the intervening years have seen the West’s attitude to this Indochinese country shift from suspicion to fascination.

Brits have long been heading to Vietnam for adventure – backpackers, escorted tour groups, and tourists looking for tailor-made cultural experiences. This market is still growing – Western & Oriental has just launched a family adventure tour in Vietnam. However, as new hotels open on the country’s many beautiful beaches, the destination is opening up to more relaxation-focused markets, including honeymooners.

There are plenty of options for loved-up couples to choose from. Laguna Lang Co claims to be Vietnam’s first ‘world class integrated resort’ – the 280-hectare site north of Da Nang is home to newly-opened hotels from Banyan Tree (pictured below) and Angsana, and there will also be private villas and a Nick Faldo-designed golf course.

Anantara has opened a deluxe hotel at Mui Ne on the southeast coast between Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang, and early next year, the Fusion Alya Hoi An is due to open, a sister property of Fusion Maia. This property in Da Nang opened two years ago and is famous as Asia’s first hotel with an all-inclusive spa.

Vietnam isn’t even close to becoming Thailand – in mainstream beach holiday terms – but this new raft of luxury hotels is exposing a softer side to the country that will only make it more popular with UK visitors.

Banyan Tree, Vietnam

BURMA



From being almost entirely off the tourist map to headline news in the space of two years – Burma has bounced back with more vigour than anyone might have expected. No fewer than 10 tour operators name-checked Burma as a destination to watch in 2013, so the need to know more about this country is more pressing than ever.

Clients should book early – supply is hardly able to keep up with demand as British tourists clamour to go and accommodation options get snapped up. Orient-Express – which operates the popular Road to Mandalay river cruise ship on the Ayeyarwady River – is launching a new vessel, Orcaella, next year, such is the appetite for the country.

From adventure tours with operators such as Dragoman, Exodus, Intrepid Travel and The Adventure Company to more luxurious trips with the likes of Regent Holidays and Ampersand Travel, there are plenty of people just ready and waiting to book so your clients can boast that they’ve sampled this flavour-of-the-month destination.