Upcoming tourist destinations: Seven countries that will be hotspots in 10 years' time

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

Sail over the Anatolian plains in a hot air balloon and see the diverse landscape of Cappadocia in Turkey, with its limestone caves, river valleys and villages.

Ten years ago, Turkey was booming. Travellers were drawn in droves to its east-meets-west exoticism, to the buzz of Istanbul and the beauty of Cappadocia, to the clear waters and the sunshine.

And Turkey still has all of those things. What it also has now, however, is a war and a humanitarian crisis on one of its borders, a heavy-handed president who borders on the dictatorial, a few incidents of terrorism in major cities, and a string of travel warnings from foreign governments.

And all of a sudden, Turkey isn't as popular as it once was. Travel is like that, of course. Places boom, and then they bust. And then they boom again. And a lot can change in 10 years.

Ten years ago, people were still going to Syria. Ten years ago, Egypt was in a pre-Arab Spring lull. Ten years ago Myanmar was on the cusp of a boom, about to go from officially "bad" to officially "good", before those fortunes would once again be reversed a little further down the track.

For travellers, it's difficult to predict which of the destinations that are so popular now will become no-go zones in another 10 years. It's quite possibly even more difficult, meanwhile, to predict which of the currently unpopular states will morph in the next decade into the destinations everyone will want to visit.

That said though, it's time for some crystal ball gazing. I wouldn't dare to predict which countries will suffer in the future; there are, however, some troubled nations I think will be booming in 10 years' time.


tra29-online-future Three African Elephant bulls in the Zambezi valley feeding on Ana Tree pods

Elephants at Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Things are already changing in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe is gone, replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. There's a feeling of excitement in the country, of expectation. Surely in the next decade Zimbabwe will go a long way to recovering from the Mugabe years and to achieving everything it's worthy of. Because it has the potential to be one of the world's great adventure travel destinations, with natural attractions like Victoria Falls and Hwange, Mana Pools and Matobo national parks, as well as culture both modern and ancient. If the political and security situation stabilises, Zimbabwe will be in for a boom.

Current DFAT travel advice: Exercise a high degree of caution



The sky is overcast at the end of a work day in Pyongyang, North Korea, where the 105-storey pyramid-shaped unfinished Ryugyong Hotel towers over residential apartments.

The 105-storey pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo: AP

Sounds crazy, right? One of the most maligned and isolationist countries in the world becoming a hotspot for tourists? But travellers love a challenge, they love the new and the exciting and the exotic, and it will only take a few changes for North Korea to open up to that sort of exploration. Already, there's promising dialogue with South Korea. There are signs that the North Korean regime wants to engage with the rest of the world. Ten more years of that sort of progress, and the travellers will be flocking.

Current DFAT travel advice: Reconsider your need to travel


tra29-online-future Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Naqsh-e Jahan Square of Isfahan Iran

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Anyone who's already been to Iran must feel intense frustration at the way the country is portrayed by Donald Trump and his cronies, as this sinister enemy, as a rogue state, as the "other". If you've been there, you know how charming and hospitable Iranians really are, and how surprisingly global and inclusive the locals are in their thinking. In 10 years Donald Trump will not be the US president. In 10 years so many wrongs in terms of worldwide perception of Iran could have been righted. All it will take is a few changes, both within Iran and in the global community, and everyone will want to visit.

Current DFAT travel advice: Exercise a high degree of caution



It's happening already. The travellers are returning to Egypt after years of unrest, after terror attacks and a wildly unstable political situation. You can't keep people away from Egypt for too long: the country has too much to offer, too much that travellers are desperate to experience and to see. And so, they're trickling back in now. Give it a few more years of stability and that trickle will be a steady flow. A few more years on top of that and you'll have yourself a flood.

Current DFAT travel advice: Reconsider your need to travel


A foreign tourist plays football, as the government implements the temporary closure of the country's most famous beach resort island of Boracay, in central Aklan province, Philippines, on Thursday, April 26, 2018. Many workers on the island were left jobless as Boracay, famed for it's powdery white-sand beaches, closes for up to six months to recover from overcrowding and development. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Boracay has been temporarily closed to visitors. Photo: AP

The Philippines isn't at war at the moment. It is, however, garnering a reputation as something of a rogue state, as president Rodrigo Duterte rules with an iron fist, as police shoot suspected drug dealers and even users on sight, as terrorist organisations chip away at pockets of this island nation. Boracay, the Philippines' best-known tourist destination, is currently closed to recover from pollution. These are all bad signs for potential visitors. However, it won't last. It certainly won't last a decade. By 2028, people will be exploring en masse.

Current DFAT travel advice: Exercise a high degree of caution


ISTANBUL: Mosques and museums, minarets and markets - including the sprawling Grand Bazaar - make this churning, vibrant city one of the world's great Sail Away ports. Istanbul sits astride Asia and Europe and is an enthralling product of melded cultures and 2000 years of fascinating history. Cruise ships mingle with ferries and the call to prayer as they wind their way past the Blue Mosque, Haggia Sophia and Topkapi Palace and along the Bosphorus towards either the Mediterranean Sea or the Black Sea. Don't miss the Museum of Modern Art, located next to the dock.

Turkey's largest city, Istanbul. Photo: Shutterstock

You have to feel for Turkey. It's such a beautiful country, such an interesting and enjoyable country, and yet forces now seem to be combining to turn potential visitors away. But things change in this part of the world rapidly, and they will for Turkey too, particularly in a 10-year window. Maybe Recep Erdogan's reign will come to an end. Maybe the situation in Syria will stabilise. Maybe people will just decide that they can't stay away any longer. But Turkey will be hugely popular again.

Current DFAT travel advice: Exercise a high degree of caution


tra29-online-future The amphitheater in the roman African colonial city of Leptis Magna in Libya

Leptis Magna in Libya Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

When you think Libya right now, you don't think "tourist hotspot". You think Muammar Gaddafi and civil unrest. You think foreign meddling and instability. But those things fade, they change over time, and then what are you left with? You're left with Leptis Magna, the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in the world. You're left with a long stretch of Mediterranean coastline. You're also left with an edgy destination that's been closed to all but the hardiest travellers for some time now, and is ripe for exploration and enjoyment.

Current DFAT travel advice: Do not travel

Which troubled countries do you think people will be travelling to in 10 years' time? Are there any current hotspots you think will be closed off?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: Instagram.com/bengroundwater

​See also: Don't go there - five places I will never visit

See also: Three amazing countries tourists won't go to

LISTEN: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater

To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.