Travelzoo Deal Experts live, eat and breathe travel. We consistently churn out the world's best travel deals while tracking the latest travel trends. So who better to tell you where the best deals will be in 2013?
While other end-of-year travel lists highlight far-flung corners of the world that only the insanely intrepid or ridiculously wealthy could visit, Travelzoo puts the world within reach with its Wow Deal Destinations for 2013. These are places where Travelzoo Deal Experts predict tremendous value in the coming year based on recent travel trends.
With destinations around the globe vying for your tourist dollars, narrowing down the list to five came after lengthy discussion and debate. The result: a heavily vetted and value-packed assortment of potential vacation spots.
Which destination will you visit next year?
- Alaska: Bag a bargain for this Bucket List travel experience: an Alaskan cruise. Cruise lines such as Princess and Celebrity have announced that they are adding more ships and itineraries to Alaska in 2013. More ships and sailings mean more cabins to fill ... and cruise lines hate to see a cabin go unoccupied. We predict the strongest Alaska cruise deals to emerge for spring and late-summer sailings.
- Colombia: A sure sign that this South American country has emerged from the shadows of its infamous past: Major airlines and hotels are quickly staking their claim here. Airlines such as JetBlue, LAN, Spirit and American Airlines are all eyeing growth in Colombia, increasing direct service to cities such as Bogota and Cartagena. Also, popular chain hotels such as Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental are sprouting up across the country. This tourism boom is breeding competition and deals - in a country where the U.S. dollar already goes far. All of this is helping to change perceptions about a nation that boasts the tongue-in-cheek tourism tag line: "The only risk is wanting to stay."
- Ireland: With a weakened Irish economy, this country is banding together to woo foreign tourism dollars to its emerald-colored shorelines. Spearheaded by the Irish government, The Gathering 2013 is a yearlong event highlighting festivals, concerts, cultural celebrations and clan gatherings across the island. Airlines, tour companies, hotels and castle resorts are joining this "Come to Ireland" battle cry by unleashing special deals for 2013 travel. (They've been encouraged to do so by the government, after all.) Add to this a weakened euro -- aka your dollar goes a wee bit further than it has in years past -- and this is great incentive for the 45 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry to make their way "home" for a visit.
- New Zealand: This country has director Peter Jackson to thank for reinvigorating its tourism industry. The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which was filmed in New Zealand, helped to catapult this country into the consideration set for travelers enchanted with the movie settings. With the launch of the "Hobbit" trilogy, its status as an outdoorsy travel destination will be elevated even more. Tour operators will seize this move-inspired buzz to craft compelling itineraries at competitive prices. And airlines such as Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines have already announced expanding service to New Zealand -- more seats to fill mean a better opportunity for flight deals.
- Niagara Falls: Hotels here seem locked in a fierce battle of "Who can craft the most outrageously good deal?" Niagara Falls hotels have gravitated toward deal-endemic travel sites such as Travelzoo with vigor this year, saturating the market with perk-packed deals that essentially make the hotel room free! The constant deal one-upmanship of these hotels will continue producing a flood of deals for Falls-bound travelers.
-- Jaime Freedman is based in New York and is the group publisher at Travelzoo. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.