The global pandemic has given us the chance to review and reset the way we travel forever, putting the planet, places, and people first.
According to the IMF, tourism accounted for 10 percent of global GDP and 320 million jobs worldwide in 2019. And with international travel being disrupted for over a year now, it’s clear some countries have been hit harder than others.
Regenerative travel – the next big trend for conscious holidaymakers – could help reverse the harm the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tourist-dependent countries, supporting local economies and cultures around the world in a more balanced way.
So, to help you give back more than you take on your next trip, we have carried out a new study to reveal the ultimate regenerative travel destinations you need to add to your bucket list.
Our shortlist is based on where in the world had a high reliance on tourism before the pandemic, but importantly remain somewhat hidden gems, according to TikTok and Instagram data – meaning you’ll have the time and space to explore them for yourself.
The perfect combination for a trip that makes a difference – to you and your host country.
No matter what kind of post-pandemic trip you’re looking for, you can explore our full list of regenerative travel destinations here. There’s certain to be something for everyone.
In the meantime, here’s a shortlist, carefully handpicked by our in-house travel experts, together with their own eye-catching postcards to entice you even more…
- % of GDP from tourism: 32.7%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 502,013
Southeast Asia is famed for its warm climate, lush rainforests, white sands, historic ruins and bustling cities. Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam were firm favourites among travellers before the pandemic, but why not explore Cambodia instead on your next trip?
In 2019, tourism made up over a third of Cambodia’s GDP, yet it’s clearly not a tourist social media hotspot.
Cambodia has plenty to offer holidaymakers, whether you’re looking for some R&R on one of its deserted white sandy beaches, to get active hiking off-the-beaten track in its jungles and national parks or want to explore its ancient past at Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon Temple. And in return, you’ll be supporting the future sustainability of this charming place and its people.
The best time to visit Cambodia is during the dry season (November to April), where you’ll enjoy average temperatures of 30°C / 86°F.
Explore what more Cambodia and other top picks in Southeast Asia have to offer the conscious traveller here.
- % of GDP from tourism: 17.4%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 4,909
South America is home to rich cultures, stunning coastlines, sprawling rainforests and some of the world’s largest waterfalls.
Before the pandemic, Argentina and Brazil were top of travellers’ bucket lists but nestled in between the two is the lesser-known Uruguay – an ideal destination for the conscious tourist.
Uruguay benefits from a combination of open space and low population density, so you won’t have to go far to get away from it all. In fact, over half of Uruguayans live in the capital, Montevideo, a bustling city blending old and new.
Beyond the city’s skyline, you’ll discover serene countryside with ranches, rustic beaches and vineyards.
The best time to visit Uruguay is November to March, when the average temperature is 27°C / 80.6°F.
Explore what more Uruguay and other top picks in South America have to offer the conscious traveller here.
- % of GDP from tourism: 27%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 197,858
Europe is famed for its metropolitan centres, palatial buildings, sprawling countryside and Mediterranean coastlines.
Albania may be Europe’s enigma, but with over 27% of its GDP coming from tourism pre-pandemic, your visit will have a positive impact.
The country boasts rugged mountain scenery, sparkling Ionian and Adriatic coastlines, fortress towns and ancient Greek and Roman sites.
The best time to visit Albania is June to August, when the average temperature is 24°C / 75.2°F.
Explore what more Albania and other top picks in Europe have to offer the conscious traveller here.
- % of GDP from tourism: 19.8%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 187,995
The most popular destinations in the Middle East for travellers pre-COVID-19 included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, with tens of millions of tourists visiting every year.
But Jordan makes the perfect alternative with so much to offer. Take your pick from sand dune surfing at Wadi Rum, floating in the serene Dead Sea, diving in the Red Sea or exploring ancient civilisations at UNESCO World Heritage sites, most famously the treasured city of Petra.
The best time to visit Jordan is between March and June, when you can enjoy the spring sunshine and cooler nights. The average temperature for this time of year is 30.3°C / 86.5°F.
Explore what more Jordan and other top picks in the Middle East have to offer here.
- % of GDP from tourism: 55.8%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 2,466
The Caribbean archipelago features more than 7,000 individual islands across 1 million square miles. So, with so many destinations to pick from, where is the best for regenerative travel?
Grenada, dubbed the spice isle, relies on tourism for over half of its national GDP each year. It is also relatively undiscovered on social media, with just over 2,000 tags and views.
This sun-soaked island boasts spectacular waterfalls like Annandale Falls, Concord Falls, and the Royal Mount Carmel Falls, locally produced rum and chocolate, pretty harbours and soft-sand beaches, and a mountainous lush interior – perfect for hiking.
The best time to visit Grenada is December to April when you can expect an average temperature of 31°C / 87.8°F.
Explore what more Grenada and other top picks in the North and Central America have to offer here.
#6 The Seychelles
- % of GDP from tourism: 65.8%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 15,050
The islands of the Seychelles are visually remarkably similar to the Maldives, with coral reefs and white sand beaches, but it’s the country in Africa hit hardest by the pandemic with previously 65% of its GDP coming from tourism.
Once a pirate hideout, the Seychelles now caters to guests looking for a little more luxury. But luxury resorts isn’t all the Seychelles has to offer tourists. Hiking trails, nature reserves, coral reefs and primeval forests are all waiting to be explored. And with under 16,000 tags and views on social media, you’ll have the time and space to soak in all the Seychelles has to offer.
The best time to visit the Seychelles is December to April when you can expect an average temperature of 31°C / 87.8°F.
Explore what more the Seychelles and other top picks in the Africa have to offer here.
- % of GDP from tourism: 72%
- TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 393,376
Known as the “Las Vegas of the East”, pre-pandemic Macau’s economy relied heavily on tourism, making up 72% of the country’s GDP.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, Macau is working to diversify its economy beyond tourism. But it will remain a vital industry for the small nation for many years to come.
Macau is the only location in China where gambling is legal. But there’s a lot more to Macau than it’s casinos and luxury hotels.
The old city is an eclectic mix of its Portuguese and Chinese heritage, where travellers can explore grand cathedrals and historic ruins, and enjoy a myriad of cuisines in its many food markets – including Pastel de Natas or Dim Sum.
The best time to visit Macau is October to November and March to May, where temperatures average 22°C / 71.6°F.
Explore what more Macau and other top picks in Asia have to offer here.
Always remember to check the latest guidelines and COVID-19 restrictions when booking a holiday abroad.
And finally, consider the most eco-friendly way of getting to your chosen destination. If you have no option but to fly, why not sign up to a carbon reduction platform, like Treepoints. This can help offset your flight’s carbon footprint by donating to certified eco projects on your behalf.
We analysed the number of social media views on TikTok and the number of posts on Instagram for the following travel-related hashtags for each country:
#locationtravel #locationtrip #locationvacation #locationholiday
We plotted this against each country’s % of GDP gained from tourism in 2019 (pre-pandemic) to produce scatter graphs showing the countries most in need of visitors as travel opens up again, but which aren’t tourist hotspots.
Destinations with under 1 million social tags and views on TikTok and Instagram were prioritised, and the shortlist of locations was handpicked by our in-house travel experts.
Please note the scatter graphs work to a logarithmic scale and cannot be compared intercontinentally.
Regardless of their position on the graphs, countries deemed unsafe for travel by the UK government due to security risks have been excluded, according to https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.