It's that time of year again, when those struck with wanderlust begin planning adventures for the upcoming year. Airbnb is here to help, by releasing its top 19 trending destinations for 2019. Topping the list is Kaikoura, New Zealand, followed by Xiamen, China, and Puebla, Mexico.
The home-sharing company ranked the destinations according to internal data showing year-on-year increases in bookings, searches, and additions to user "wish lists" made for 2019 as of October 2018, vs. those actions made for 2018 as of October 2017.
"Many destinations, like Kaikoura, Puebla, and the Great Smoky Mountains, are coming back in a big way following recent hardship, from earthquakes to wildfires," says Ali Killam, consumer trends spokesperson for Airbnb. Those disasters, Airbnb speculates, may in fact be driving tourists to such destinations.
The coastal town of Kaikoura, the leading locale in New Zealand, was heavily damaged by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2016, but has since seen a 295 per cent increase in bookings and a 210 per cent increase in searches. With transportation services now back online, visitors can view seals and other marine life in the waters surrounding the historic whaling town.
Second on the Airbnb list is Xiamen, a port city in China that faces Taiwan, with a 283 per cent bump in bookings. Xiamen is great for seafood lovers, according to Airbnb, and allows easy access to surrounding islands, including the Unesco World Heritage-listed Kulangsu, which is pedestrian-only and vehicle-free. Opened as a commercial port in 1843, Kulangsu became an important window for Sino-foreign exchanges, the history of which can still be seen in a mixture of architectural styles including Traditional Southern Fujian, Veranda Colonial, and Western Classical Revival.
Airbnb continues to see travellers side-stepping major destinations in favour of smaller or lesser-known places, according to Killam. "So much about an experience changes when you venture even just a little ways out of the major tourism hubs."
The Puebla region of Mexico is a two-hour drive southeast from Mexico City and ranks third with a 240 per cent year-over-year increase in searches and a 206 per cent increase in wish list inclusion. Like Kaikura, the region is rebuilding following a 2017 earthquake and has recently undertaken structural improvements to many of its physical attractions while welcoming a slate of new hotel openings. Puebla City, the region's capital and Mexico's fourth-largest city, is Spanish-built and contains more than 350 churches.
Next up is Normandy, France, site of the D-Day landings and only a two-hour train journey from Paris. Bookings are up 229 per cent. Closer to home, the Great Smoky Mountains comes in at No. 5 on the list, thanks to a 191 per cent increase in bookings, followed by Buenos Aires Province, Argentina (a 188 per cent increase in bookings), Accra, Ghana (a 163 per cent increase in bookings), and Mozambique (a 156 per cent increase).
Local experiences are also a driving factor for travellers, according to Airbnb, which has also released its accompanying list of top trending host-led experiences for the coming year. Meditation (up 367 per cent) and hiking (up 655 per cent) are increasingly popular activities for travellers.
Airbnb's Top-Trending Destinations for 2019:
- Kaikoura, New Zealand
- Xiamen, China
- Puebla, Mexico
- Normandy, France
- Great Smoky Mountains, US
- Buenos Aires Province, Argentina
- Accra, Ghana
- Outer Hebrides, Scotland
- Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
- Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley, US
- Santa Catarina State, Brazil
- Batumi, Georgia
- Winnipeg, Canada
- Pondicherry, India
- Calabria, Italy
- Andalucia, Spain
See also: The top countries for food in 2019 named