Unrest in the Middle East brought a dip in tourism as uneasy travelers looked to other vacation destinations to spend their travel dollars. Following the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the region’s travel dipped upwards of 8 percent as reported by the U.N. World Tourism Organization. Where lines once swelled around the pyramids, the year 2011 meant bookings and visitors to area attractions dwindled. However, Middle Eastern tourism has surpassed comeback status and is trending in areas from Jordan to Egypt and beyond, with reports of double-digit growth of an 11.2 percent increase in travel bookings.
Travel and tour agencies are packaging experiential travel to visitors looking for an adventure. The new 370-mile trek through monuments and villages on the Jordan Trail takes visitors on an adventure of a lifetime. Food tourism is nothing new, but culinary travel is on the rise in the Middle East as visitors line up to try Palestinian cooking classes and sample the best local delicacies. Inteprid Travel’s Iran Real Food Adventure takes visitors through a world of spices, meats and stews on a trip from Tehran to Shiraz for a culturally immersive experience. Traditional travel favorites like Dubai Desert dune buggy riding, daytrips to Petra and an exploration of the pyramids remain popular favorites for bucket list travelers new to the region.
Like anywhere in the world, travelers should check Middle Eastern travel advisories before booking and embarking on their next adventure. Stick to areas with a stable government with little political unrest to ensure the most smooth and stress-free travel as possible.
Park and resort management company Xanterra Travel Collection announced its Book Your Bucket List sale, offering travelers savings of up to 30 percent off national park experiences. Available Nov. 23–30, the sale grants travelers access to luxury resorts, tours and cruises at discounted rates.
Prepare your taste buds for the trip of a lifetime in Greece. About 100 Greek products — from wines, cheese and fruits to honey and oils — earned a Protected Designation of Origin from the European Union, and the country’s most beloved dishes include Greek Choriatiki salad, tzatziki, souvlaki and moussaka, with its layers of eggplant, potato, minced meat and bechamel. And those are only a few of the many highlights.
Hotel Chicago West Loop is Chicago’s first hotel to bring street art inside, and to every guestroom. The dual-purpose property doubles as an art gallery, and launched its “Annex Murals” exhibit in 2018 with 15 hand-painted rooms boasting the work of some of Chicago’s most celebrated urban artists, including Asend, JC Rivera and Eloo. Today, all 116 rooms at the hotel have been painted with street murals, becoming some of the most distinctive lodging spaces in the city.
The Greek tradition of health and wellness runs deep; travelers can find a multitude of therapies to meet their wellbeing needs, from healing spas, herbal therapies, hypnotherapy, massages and more. In Greece, the approach to wellness focuses on the “whole” and the ways in which the mind, body and soul interact. A state of balance is achieved through a good relationship between the emotional and natural state, which can be found throughout Greece at its more than 800 medicinal spas.
Zürich changes shape as the holiday approaches, becoming a winter wonderland full of busy markets, fondue chalets, candle dipping at Bürklipatz and light installations. For the first time ever, Zürich will also feature a pop-up hotel experience Nov. 26–Dec. 26.