Where to visit in 2013

Ireland, Myanmar, Marseille and New Zealand are all on the travel radar for 2013 thanks to new tours and events.

The old port of Marseille. Photo / Thinkstock
The old port of Marseille. Photo / Thinkstock

The best pitch for travel in the new year might just be coming from Ireland, which is running ads "calling all Flynns, O'Malleys and Schweizenbergs'' to the Emerald Isle for a unique grassroots homecoming called The Gathering.

Here are details on these and other places, events and travel trends for 2013:

IRELAND'S THE GATHERING

"It's a citizen-led initiative to attract people who are Irish-born, Irish-bred or Irish in spirit to join us in 2013,'' said Bernard McMullan of Tourism Ireland. "It's almost become a competition where one county, town or village tries to have as quirky a gathering as the next.''

More than 2000 events are already planned, including events for redheads and left-handers as well as reunions based on family names and clans.

Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director of Fodor's Travel, is one of more than 44 million Americans (including President Obama) with an Irish ancestor in the family tree.

"There are Irish people all over the world,'' she said. "It will be great fun being able to connect with others going back for this event. It's like an entire year of St Patrick's Day parties.''

MYANMAR

President Barack Obama's historic recent visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma) - the first ever by a sitting US president - is adding to already heated-up interest in the country, which has only fully opened to tourism in the last few years. Fodor's Bowen says it's especially attractive to people who are already well travelled and seeking that next unknown destination.

Many tour companies are adding Myanmar trips due to demand and the US Tour Operators Association's active members named Myanmar No.1 on a list of "off-the-beaten path'' countries they foresee becoming popular in 2013.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand received a huge boost in tourism from fans of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, and the release of the new movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is focusing attention on the destination once again. All four of the movies were filmed here.

MARSEILLE

The French port city Marseille is one of two European capitals of culture in 2013, along with the Slovakian city of Kosice. Fodor's Bowen says Marseille "has been overlooked in the past'' by a lot of travellers heading to the lavender fields and wineries of Provence, but she believes it's ripe for a "renaissance'' with new hotels, art galleries and culinary hotspots.

THEME PARKS

Next northern summer will see the popular 3D ride based on the Transformers movies opening at Universal's theme park in Orlando. Transformers: The Ride - 3D previously opened this past May at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles.

At Disneyland in California, spring will herald the opening of Fantasy Faire, located at Fantasyland and dedicated to Disney heroes and heroines. At Disney World near Orlando, Florida, a new attraction called Princess Fairytale Hall, where guests can meet Disney princesses, is also scheduled to open in 2013.

Princess Fairytale Hall will be located at the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland, which opened in early December, doubling the size of the original Fantasyland. Both parks are offering weekly surprises for guests as part of a yearlong 2013 programme called Limited Time Magic.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 23 Nov 2014 21:57:50 Processing Time: 482ms