Most Popular World Destinations Through Google Searches
While a significant amount of travel planning concludes with travel agents booking their clients’ trips, most consumers begin their process with a simple Google search to learn what they can about their destinations.
Now Google has offered a fascinating window into the places where Americans want to travel by naming the top five most-searched destinations: Reykjavik, Iceland; Havana, Cuba; Tokyo, Japan; Toronto, Canada; and Mexico City, Mexico. Recently, Travel Leaders Group asked its agents which of those top five are most popular among their clients. Nearly half of those polled (46.4 percent) said that Reykjavik is the hottest spot of all. Not bad for one of the world’s coldest destinations. Following Reykjavik is (#2) Havana with 37.9% of the agents saying that this formerly-taboo destination is now overflowing with pent up demand. The other three destinations are far behind: (#3) Tokyo with 7.8%; (#4) Toronto with 4.6%; and (#5) Mexico City with 3.2%.
Google’s research shows that there are some understandable reasons why consumers search those cities more often than any others. It’s partially geography. Toronto and Mexico City are within easy flying distance for many travelers. The normalization of relations with Cuba has whetted the appetites of Americans to visit Havana. Activities also play a role; travelers who searched for Reykjavik are interested in hiking and those who searched for Tokyo tend to be technophiles.
Tourism officials in Iceland report an increase in visitors of about 20 percent over the last few years, with the majority spending time in Reykjavik, the capital. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something interesting going on. From February 2–5, it’s the annual Winter Lights Festival and from March 1–5, the city is home to the Food and Fun Festival. January to March is also a less-crowded time to see the dazzling Northern Lights.
The people-to-people tours permitted by U.S. law are a terrific way to become immersed in the culture, history, and cuisine of Havana. Activities may include a walking tour of the old city, a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home, and a chance to take in the vibrant art and music scenes. From February 27 to March 3, the Habanos Festival celebrates Cuban cigars. Cuba is also home to thousands of vintage American automobiles and every March, Havana holds a classic car celebration.
Tokyo is a fascinating combination of ancient tradition and modern amenities. Visit the serene Meiji Shrine, located in the middle of a 200-acre park and dedicated to the 19th-century emperor who opened up Japan to the West. Don’t miss the Ginza, a shopping district lined with boutiques, department stores, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. For some of the freshest sushi you’ll ever eat, check out the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Foodies will savor a trip to Toronto, one of the world’s most multicultural cities. Winterlicious, Toronto’s winter food celebration, takes place from January 27 to February 9 at more than 200 restaurants, giving diners a chance to sample creative cuisine from around the world. Ice-skating at the rink in Nathan Phillips Square, in front of City Hall, has been a Toronto tradition for generations. Rent a pair of skates and join in the fun.
As one of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City is ripe for exploration. Check out the historic city center and Zocalo Square for museums, churches, and historic buildings. The city’s food scene offers something for every taste, from humble taco stands to family-style restaurants to fine-dining establishments. Among Mexico City’s most interesting neighborhoods is Coyoacan, an enclave of artists and writers that was once home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
For help planning a trip to any of these cities, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793 or info@TravelLeadersCOS.com.