by Greg Dickinson, The Telegraph, October 9, 2018
Destinations including Göreme, Tbilisi and Bergerac feature among the most popular emerging destinations of 2018, a new report shows.
Search data from booking website Rome2rio reveals that, while the perennially popular destinations of Paris, New York and Rome remained the most searched-for places in 2018, lesser-known destinations across Europe have also seen a boost in interest.
The alternative destinations list, categorised as places that received fewer than 40,000 searches on Rome2rio but a growth of at least 25 per cent of traffic year-on-year, shows a shift towards less obvious destinations in a year when overtourism dominated headlines in places like Venice, Lisbon and Barcelona.
Some of the highest ranking cities can be put down to major sporting and cultural events that took place in 2018. Kiev (host of UEFA Champions League Final), Windsor (location of the Royal Wedding), Moscow (host city of the FIFA World Cup), Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (close to the penultimate stage of the Tour de France) and Brisbane (host city of Commonwealth Games) received a predicted boom in search traffic globally.
However, some of the other alternative destinations came as more of a surprise to Telegraph Travel. Here’s a look at five of the destinations that proved popular with British holidaymakers in 2018.
Göreme is the gateway to Cappadocia, perhaps best known as planet Earth’s most picturesque hot-air ballooning destination. If you're more into subterrannean attractions, across the region there are more than a thousand rock-hewn churches and around 30 'underground cities'.
Turkey has seen a resurgence in visitor numbers after a tumultuous few years and the Cappadocia region is certainly reaping the benefits of the comeback, attracting coach-loads of tourists over the summer months. However, it is possible to avoid the crowds.
Telegraph Travel’s Jeremy Seal writes: “Cappadocia boasts an astonishing profusion of alternative cultural sites – there are an estimated 3,000 churches across the region – many of which any independently minded traveller should be able to reach. The lack of a comprehensive guidebook, that said, calls for a modicum of initiative.”
Tbilisi has always been a magnet for artists and writers, and its soul remains visible not in the gleam of its new office districts, but in its domed churches, hidden courtyards, its cosmopolitan, foreign-language bookshops, and most of all in the hazy streets of its labyrinthine Old Town.
“It's steeped in history – the Old Town, with its twisting alleys, is particularly fascinating,” the singer, Katie Melua, who grew up in Tbilisi, told Telegraph Travel. “It's a city that’s very much off the beaten track. Not many tourists have been there, which makes it all the more worth visiting.”
The city received a rise in British visitors last year after Georgian Airlines launched direct flights from Gatwick, halving the travel time to under five hours.
Despite the recent slump in visitors over terror and instability fears in Turkey, the tourist resorts around the south and west coast, such as Bodrum and Antalya, have remained largely unaffected.
So where to go to avoid the crowds? Cirali could be the answer, says travel writer James Stewart. “Its two-mile beach is a scimitar of fine shingle wedged between rocky spurs. Ripe for commercialisation, then. But because loggerhead turtles lay their eggs here, development is forbidden – which is why Çirali today is a mellow family resort that feels more distant than its hour from Antalya.
“That it’s a dead end helps. Largely car-free, verdant with citrus and pomegranate trees, Çirali remains a place to potter: hotel, beach, restaurant, repeat. Magic. The ancients thought so too. They saw the natural flames flickering from rocks as evidence of monsters at nearby Chimaera. At the other end of the beach is ancient Olympos. Unleash your inner Indiana Jones among the ruins.”
Speaking of Bergerac’s inclusion in the list, Acting CEO of Rome2rio Kirsteene Phelan said: “The emergence of Bergerac in France into sixth place amongst our British users can be largely attributed to the new summer routes by Jet2.com from Manchester launched in 2018, alongside news of another addition from Birmingham for 2019.”
According to Telegraph Travel’s Anthony Peregrine, the region is one of the best in France for wine. He says: “Bergerac wines are equal to most (but not all) of those made by their Bordeaux neighbours, and at a much lower cost. Pécharmant reds are, I reckon, the best of Bergerac, and those of the Dubard family at this 18th-century farmstead are perhaps the pick of the Pécharmants. The good news is that, having drunk the wine, one may also stay here. The family welcome is as from the country squirearchy and the vineyards and gardens may be wandered at will ( farciesdupech.com ).”
Saint Sampson, Guernsey
The rise in popularity of Guernsey can perhaps be put down to the release of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society in April this year.
Describing the island, Telegraph Travel’s Chris Leadbeater says: “It is an island which swirls with notes of interest - wilder than you might think, and swaddled in a history that rears its head in unexpected corners. If the film's pleasing tale of romance, recovery and loss has you perusing the map and planning a trip of your own, the following 13 facts (not all about the war, although the occupation provides many fascinating Guernsey anecdotes) may also provide reasons for travel."