In these turbulent times, some countries that once were fixtures on the bucket lists of affluent Americans have been summarily deleted. The most obvious example is Egypt. Not long ago, a cruise down the Nile was virtually mandatory for those who wanted to regard themselves as sophisticated travelers. But now, thanks to both domestic turmoil and that in the wider Middle East, the riverboats sail half-empty. And in a dozen other once-popular places, war, terrorism and Ebola have conspired to shrink the planet.
For me, this is a matter of special concern at the end of the year, when I consider where to go to cover the places likely to be of most interest to my readers. Judging by my emails, the overriding concern of Hideaway Report subscribers is security. This explains the ever-growing interest in Australia and New Zealand. In South America, Chile is undoubtedly the country of the moment, in part because it is perceived to be more politically and economically stable than either Argentina or Brazil. In Africa, the countries that have weathered the Ebola crisis and returned to prosperity are preeminently Botswana and Namibia. They are also viewed as tranquil and safe.
Obeying the contents of my mailbox, 2016 will almost certainly see me make an extended trip to Scandinavia, as well as to Japan, which has witnessed a dramatic increase in Western visitors, not all of whom can have been lured by the favorable exchange rate. Fortunately, people’s desire to travel seems to be virtually unquenchable, and one country’s problems tend to become another’s opportunity. So when you switch on the television, it may seem that the world is a mess, but in fact, the possibilities are as inexhaustible as ever. It has long been my credo that travel is the one area of human life where spending money makes you richer. And I’m certain that the first international boarding pass of 2016 will bring me exactly the same thrill as in every previous year.