Unsure where to travel next year? Courtesy of new flights, reopened sights and departing dictators, these six places should top your list.
Decades ago, Zimbabwe offered one of the best safaris around, with animal-filled national parks such Mana Pools and some of Africa’s finest guides. Then, as the Mugabe dictatorship grew ever more oppressive, tourist numbers slowed to a trickle.
Now, with a new era taking tentative hold, there’s scope for a joyous comeback. Those same guides remain mostly present, while the Big Five have survived remarkably intact.
Adding to the lure is the new Victoria Falls airport, which opened late in 2016.
2. America’s Deep South
From May 16, British Airways will fly between Heathrow and Nashville, the state capital of Tennessee and a city known for its musical offerings. But that’s far from the only reason to consider a Deep South jaunt in 2018.
Elvis Presley’s home, Memphis, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination in the city; a wave of events across the region will commemorate this. A Memorial to Peace & Justice has already debuted in Montgomery, as has a superb Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.
Further south, New Orleans turns 300 in 2018, and will be throwing a multi-event tricentennial party across the year to complement its usual Mardi Gras spectacular.
An anniversary is also due in Mauritius: the small, paradisiacal Indian Ocean island will celebrate 50 years of independence in 2018.
You can fly direct from the UK, and stay at a range of beachside resorts. Most luxurious is the super-swanky One&Only Le Saint Géran, which has reopened after a £41 million refurbishment; new swim-up villas (Mauritius’ first) at the Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa are easier on wallets.
The island will also star on screen next year: pretending to be the Caribbean, it provides locations for the Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway noir-thriller Serenity.
Further south than parts of Tunisia, the archipelago of Malta is already popular as a reliable shoulder-season source of sun. Gozo island delivers excellent diving, while the prehistoric Hagar Qim Temple ruins thrill any history buff.
But 2018 offers extra ammunition. Main city Valletta—although really the whole of Malta— will be a co-European Capital of Culture. The full programme was undisclosed at time of writing, but the headline news is Muza, a new national art gallery.
Valletta has already seen a surge in stylish boutique hotels: both the Saint John and The Vincent opened in autumn in the city’s port area.
5. South Korea
Even if you haven’t got a ticket for February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it’s still well worth considering a trip to South Korea in 2018.
Scheduled to launch in summer, a new high-speed railway will halve the travel time between Pyeongchang and futuristic capital Seoul, whose new high-line park of cafes and libraries has recently opened.
Both cities also offer a chance to try exalted street foods like bibimbap and kimchi stew at source.
6. North-coast Brazil
Until now, getting to Jericoacoara—a fishing village, surf mecca and powder-beach idyll which everyone calls “Jeri”— necessitated a five-hour transfer by car and then 4x4 or boat.
Yet the opening of an airport, coupled with direct flights beginning from São Paulo in December 2017, may see a classic case of paradise lost. Go now, with great haste.
Another new flight, provided by Air Europa from Gatwick via Madrid, connects to Recife, a northern city which most Britons miss in favour of Rio. Their loss: Recife has its own superb carnaval, plus great restaurants and, up the coast, scintillating diving.