Tourism: These destinations will emerge from anonymity in 2024 and allow you to avoid the crowds

The year 2023 which has just ended is a good year for the tourism industry. After a big recovery in 2022, we broke records last year. Over the summer, destinations returned to or exceeded their 2019 figures (a year of all-time records at the time), and Belgian tour operators reported records. In Wallonia and Brussels, the change in the school calendar also benefited tourism professionals. With Carnival and All Saints' Day two weeks away, many people longed for a week in the sun far away from Belgium.

Travel: These alternative destinations will be popular in 2024

We have achieved a sometimes 20 to 25% increase in bookings compared to the best years and some places have regained their pre-Covid success. We think of Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia in particular, while the Greek and Spanish islands were packed with tourists. Today's question is whether Belgians will go on holiday in 2024, but where? While the most popular destinations still attract many tourists, many people try to escape the hustle and bustle of most tourist areas. Here are the top 5 places to discover in 2024.

1. The Balkans are finding their place in the sun, with Albania leading the way

An aerial view of Prespa National Park near Korsi, home to some Balkan lynx in southeastern Albania.

©AFP

The trend is starting to emerge, but it will become even more apparent in the coming months and years: Albania is a new fashionable destination. If the offer is too low for all the destinations (you have to bet on Bulgaria), the country has breathtaking natural landscapes and very interesting historical sites. If the country has long suffered the scars of war that mark the countries of the former Yugoslavia, peace has returned after a long time. It is an ideal place to explore nature, mountains and sea. It is an alternative to Croatia which attracts more tourists.

2. Nordic countries, to avoid summer heat

The Danish city of Billund is the headquarters of Legoland. ©BELGAIMAGE

This time we are also talking about a trend that is starting to emerge in the face of global warming. With repeated heat waves in southern Europe and fires affecting Greece and the Spanish islands, Belgians are looking for places where the air is more breathable. Sweden, Denmark and even Norway attract tourists who change their holiday destinations. This summer, TUI already hinted at this trend. “Since the health crisis, TUI, the country's leading tour operator, has clearly noted a renewed interest in greener, quieter destinations away from the crowds. Denmark, a relatively unknown destination until recently, answers this demand perfectly and offers an interesting alternative to southern temperatures. This summer, TUI records a strong increase in bookings to Denmark. Easily accessible by car, Billund, the tourist “capital” and headquarters of the LEGOLAND® park, reinforces this success.

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3. Senegal, between heavenly beaches and natural treasures

Heavenly beaches, but rich territories. © Life / Correspondents

Remote destinations are also returning to pre-2020 booking rates. Although the recovery is slow, tourists are returning to most of the countries that were already popular. We think of America, Canada, Thailand or even Bali or South Africa. Japan is increasingly popular, especially for everything related to the manga universe. And we haven't forgotten the Caribbean, with the Dominican Republic leading the way. Facing these well-known destinations, Senegal has a great card to play, offering high-quality all-or-nothing luxury hotels, but also territories with 8 UNESCO-classified sites and treasures.

4. The British Isles are forgetting about Brexit

Loch Ness in Scotland. ©Copyright (c) 2023 Sylvia Hegeler/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

In recent years, Scotland has become an ideal destination for tourists looking for wide open spaces and history, while avoiding long hours flying to the US or Canada. If the weather is not always good, the beauty of the scenery and the local culture will soon make you forget the rain. Certain areas such as the Isle of Skye should be avoided in summer. Many other islands, like the Isle of Mull, offer better alternatives. A little further afield, Ireland also has a good card to play.

5. In France, too, we may wonder

In France, you can still find lost places, but you have to prepare. ©LECLERCQ Olivier / hemis.fr

It's a destination for Belgians, summer and winter, and will be Belgium's No. 1 destination next summer. But the country has enough to offer alternatives to more popular regions. During the Covid era, hilly places have attracted many tourists who are looking for wide open spaces and nature. We may also place the Vosges, Auvergne and Ardèche in the same category. In the more touristy areas, there is a way to avoid the crowds. Forget the famous calanques in Marseille and choose, for example, Cote Bleu. Closer and much less touristy, it offers similar landscapes. Another tip: visit the Lérins Islands rather than Porquerolles or skip the Arcachon Basin to head towards Soulac-sur-Mer.

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