Which of the world's regions will be at the top of travelers' lists in 2015? Travel websites and guidebook publishers have delivered their rankings and suggestions for travelers in the coming year, and these five destinations stand out from the crowd.
The country has declared 2015 its national year of tourism, meaning that there has never been a better time to visit. Special events and shows for tourists will be held at the country's monuments and cultural heritage sites, such as the imperial fortress of Thang Long. Da Nang, a city located between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, topped Tripadvisor's list of the best destinations of 2015. With its Buddhist sanctuaries and beautiful beaches, the destination is winning over more and more members of the website's travel community.
While South Africa has enjoyed growing popularity with tourists in recent years, the neighboring Republic of Namibia now seems to be enjoying a similar boost, in large part thanks to its exceptional natural heritage. The nation, which will celebrate 25 years of independence in 2015, is known for its abundance of wild animals and nature preserves, including the Etosha National Park and the Kalahari Desert.
Panama and Nicaragua
A recent rise in tourism to nearby Costa Rica seems to be spreading to these two Central American nations as well. Both are in the process of developing their tourism infrastructure, namely through several hotel construction projects. In 2014, Panama celebrated the centenary of its famous canal -- its star attraction -- while Nicaragua has just begun construction on its own canal linking the two oceans. Untouched beaches, volcanic mountains and colonial-era towns are also among the attractions shared by the two countries.
The Baltic nation will enter the Euro zone on January 1, 2015, making it that much more accessible to foreign tourists. Vilnius, the capital city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where visitors will find Baroque churches, charming pedestrian streets and even remnants of the Soviet era. But the rest of the country is also worth the trip. Nature enthusiasts can head to the country's national parks, or admire the landscapes of its Amber Coast and its Courland Isthmus, another site recognized sby UNESCO.
Stealing a little of the spotlight from Brussels and Bruges, both perennial favorites among tourists, Mons has been named a European Capital of Culture for 2015. Mons and the surrounding Hainaut region stand out for their rich cultural heritage, including the Baroque belfry in Mons, the Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes and the more recent coal mines of Grand-Hornu. In preparation for 2015, the city has renovated its cultural sites and is planning several large exhibitions and events, the most significant of which will be Le Doudou, the ancient traditional festival celebrated on May 31.