Brazil, Russia and Latvia are among the destinations that will be in the spotlight this year, according to the hotel reservation website Hotels.com.
International travel is on the rise, according to the World Tourism Organization, which observed a 5% increase in the number of international tourists over the first three quarters of 2013. This growth is expected to continue into 2014, and as Hotels.com points out, certain countries are particularly well placed to take advantage of the trend.
Major international sporting events are a sure way to draw international tourists, so it's no surprise that Brazil, as the host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, made it into Hotels.com's list of the year's star destinations. The website reports that hotel reservation requests for Rio de Janeiro have quadrupled since the lottery was held to determine which cities would host the qualified national teams.
The Tour de France, another world-famous sporting event, will depart in 2014 from Yorkshire, making the English county one of this summer's hottest tourist destinations.
In the meantime, however, the Russian city of Sochi will become the center of the sports world during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in February. Hotels.com reports that 30 new four- and five-star hotels and 54 new three-star hotels have sprung up to accommodate participants and fans attending the events. Even after the closing ceremonies, these new accommodations should continue to attract visitors to this resort town, located on the scenic Black Sea coast and surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains.
Another destination in the spotlight this year is Latvia, which entered the Euro zone on January 1. The nation's capital Riga has been designated by the EU as one of two 2014 European Capitals of Culture (along with the Swedish town of Umeå). The festivities in Riga will kick off with an official ceremony on January 17 and will continue through the year, providing an excellent reason to visit the capital, one of Northern Europe's more affordable destinations, Hotels.com notes, with an average hotel price of just €69 (around $94).
Last but not least, the Spanish city of Barcelona is well-placed to see a rise in tourists from the north this year, as the French national railway company, SNCF, recently inaugurated the first high-speed rail line linking the Catalonian capital directly to major French cities (Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse). With five departures in both directions between the two nations, the SNCF expects to carry one million passengers on this line in 2014.