People may not have traveled a lot in the past year, but that hasn’t stopped them from looking for ideas online.
Tour operator for luxury travel Unforgettable trips wanted to know what travel experiences people have been looking for the most over the past year. With the help of digital marketing agency SEO Travel, the company compiled a list of 135 of the world’s most popular bucket list destinations and used software to determine how many people are planning to visit each website.
According to the study, which analyzed searches from May 2020 to May 2021, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, was the most wanted travel experience, a result that surprised the team at Unforgettable Travel.
With more than 160 stories, the Burj Khalifa is 2,716 feet tall, or more than double the height of the 1,250 foot Empire State Building in New York.
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“In the top 10 alone there were some experiences that we thought would appear further down, even though they were great experiences … that includes the # 1 Burj Khalifa in Dubai,” said Luke Harvey, the company’s marketing manager. “But the fact that Dubai stayed open to visitors most of the time during the pandemic will have supported his position.”
That wasn’t the only surprise for the team.
“Trekking to Mount Everest base camp is definitely a once in a lifetime experience, but we didn’t think it would beat the Colosseum in Rome,” he said.
The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, a small state-owned island in southern Manhattan.
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Mount Everest’s place on the list may reflect growing preferences for outdoor travel activities. Six walks appeared in the top 50 listincluding Mount Everest, Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, Arizona’s Havasu Falls, Norway’s Trolltunga, South Africa’s Table Mountain and Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Continent lists show the travel experiences and websites with the greatest online interest in certain parts of the world.
History, wildlife and natural wonders are Africa’s most searched websites, including some that are linked in terms of global search activity.
1. Go down the Nile
2. Ascent of Kilimanjaro
2. Hiking to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town
4. Visit of Chefchaouen, the “Blue City” of Morocco
5. Hiking in Kenya
6. Bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge
6. Trekking to gorillas in Uganda
8. See the Sahara desert
9. On safari in the Ngorongoro Crater
9. Visit to the Medina (old town) of Marrakech
“These are all great things to do in some of Africa’s top destinations,” said Kent Redding, president and co-founder of luxury safari company Africa Adventure Consultants.
He told CNBC that due to the pandemic, travelers should expect some restrictions while these locations are open. For example, visitors must stay 10 meters from the gorillas in Uganda, and the cable car up Table Mountain will be closed until at least July 11, he said.
Travelers to Africa this year are enjoying “a level of exclusivity not seen in a century,” said Kent Redding of Africa Adventure Consultant.
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The 2022 travel season is filling fast due to postponements from this year and “a ton of new bookings” for next year, Redding said. That means there are plenty of options for travelers ready to travel this year, he said.
“While travelers now face some hurdles while traveling – including canceled flights, sporadic bans, and lots of Covid testing – those who can roll with the punches enjoy incredible experiences,” Redding said. “You visit some of Africa’s most popular parks and see amazing wildlife … with no one around.”
The White Continent has only one experience on the list – just step on it.
“Antarctica has always had a unique attraction,” says Patrick Woodhead, Managing Director at White desert, a luxury tour operator who organizes expeditions to the interior of the continent. “Customers are drawn to the continent because there is still a sense of discovery in travel that has been lost in so many other places around the world.”
Despite the impression that Antarctica is a large block of ice, the continent is “incredibly diverse,” said Patrick Woodhead of White Desert.
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Woodhead said the 2021-2022 travel season will be the company’s busiest season yet.
“With such a long backlog, customers aren’t waiting to experience a lifelong dream,” he told CNBC.
Even though most of Asia was closed to tourism last year, people were still looking for information about these experiences:
1. Visit to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai
2. Hike to Mount Everest base camp in Nepal
3. Tour of the Taj Mahal
4. Travel to Japan during the cherry blossom season
5. See China’s Forbidden City
6. Diving in the Indonesian Raja Ampat Islands
7. The sunrise at Angkor Wat. observe
8. Swimming in the Dead Sea
9. Visit to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
10. The sunrise at the temple of Borobudur. see
Perhaps the least known place on Asia’s list, the Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia is considered to be one of the best places in the world for diving.
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The list includes both modern architecture – Burj Khalifa, Petronas Towers – and historical – the temples of Angkor Wat and Borobudur, as well as China’s Forbidden City.
The extremes of nature are also emphasized; the highest mountain in the world – Mount Everest – and the lowest place on earth – the Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan – are on the list.
The top 3 searched spots in Europe come as no surprise, and the rest of the list is an eclectic mix of architecture, nature, exercise, and entertainment.
1. To the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
2. Visit to the Louvre in Paris
2. Explore the Colosseum of Rome
4. Go to Glastonbury Festival
5. Celebrate in Ibiza
6. Ride with the Orient Express
7. See the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
8. Visit to Buckingham Palace in London
9. Cruise through the Norwegian fjords
10. Run the London Marathon
Europe had the most places on the longer list, taking 19 out of 50 places. Italy secured four more with Pompeii, Cinque Terre, the Sistine Chapel and the Canals of Venice.
Two experiences in Iceland – seeing the Northern Lights and swimming in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon – also made the breakthrough, as did a tour of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and Stonehenge in the United Kingdom.
Spain’s still unfinished La Sagrada Familia church narrowly ousted British Buckingham Palace in terms of global search interest last year.
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Europe has reopened to some international travelers, but tourists should note that not all of these experiences have been made yet.
Four big city travel experiences in North America made it into the global top 10 list. The rest was concentrated in more rural parts of the continent.
1. Visit the Statue of Liberty
2. See the Las Vegas Strip
2. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
4. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
5. Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
6. Road trip on Route 66
7. Participation in Coachella
7. See Niagara Falls on the US-Canada border
9. Camping in Canada’s Banff National Park
10. See Mount Rushmore
“This is a great list, and I think it hits many of the best US locations and experiences,” said Ruzwana Bashir, CEO of Peek, a Booking website for travel experiences.
She said one way to make bucket list trips special is to see them in interesting ways. From this list, she recommends taking one underground tour of the Grand Canyon, zip-lining in the Mojave Desert outside of Las Vegas and seaplane over the Golden Gate Bridge.
A seaplane ride offers “incredible views” of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco, said Ruzwana Bashir of Peek.
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“On Route 66, I’d recommend taking a tour of the breathtaking caves in Peach Springs, a trip around Santa Fe to raft the Rio Grande, and a local handcrafted cocktail at a beautiful distillery in Galena, Kansas , to enjoy.” said Bashir.
She added that other must-have experiences in North America include a Napa Valley hot air balloon ride, visiting Yosemite National Park, and other activities Waterfall yoga in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
After Antarctica, Oceania is the most populous continent in the world, comprising Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and many smaller islands such as Fiji, Guam and French Polynesia.
Unsurprisingly, all but one of the most sought-after travel activities involve the outdoors.
1. Snorkeling in Great Barrier Reef
2. Watch a show at the Sydney Opera House
3. See New Zealand’s Hobbiton
4. Visit the Uluru Monolith, or Ayers Rock
5. Spend the night in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora
6. A tour of New Zealand’s Waitomo Glowworm Caves
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Hobbiton on October 4, 2018 in Matamata, New Zealand.
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The most recent of these experiences is the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata on the North Island of New Zealand. Tolkien enthusiasts can book a guided tour of the 12 acre film set used in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
In South America, too, online interest is directed towards outdoor activities.
1. Hike to Macchu Picchu
2. See the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands
2. Experience the biodiversity of Costa Rica
4.Hiking on Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni (salt flat)
4. Visit the Iguazu Falls, where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet
4. See that Easter Island moai statues
7th Visit to the San Pedro de Atacama desert
8. Explore Patagonia
9. Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru
10. See the Amazon rainforest
Rain still makes Bolivia’s salt desert of Uyuni appear smooth as glass.
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Peru’s most famous tourist destination, Macchu Picchu, topped the list. It was also one of four of the “New seven wonders of the world“Added to the list of the 50 most wanted travel experiences.
“The biggest surprise was that some of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ didn’t make the top 50, including the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan and Christ the Redeemer in Brazil,” said Harvey of Unforgettable Travel.
In the end, he attributed it to the sheer size of the competition.
“There are so many amazing things to see and do in our world,” he said.