Editors' Pick: Originally published Dec. 28.
As a result of several high-profile attacks around the world, terrorism has become a concern among countless international travelers in a way that it has not been in years past.
Add to that the uncertainty associated with climate change and the growing frequency of natural disasters, and you have yet another source of hesitation among globe trotters when it comes to travel in 2016.
And while industry experts insist that bookings remain steady, or perhaps busier than usual in a show of solidarity with affected countries, there is no denying a shift in patterns among large swaths of the traveling population, one that's more than likely tied to the past year's events.
"You can tell that the terrorist attacks in Paris, the economic collapse in Greece, all of those events have put a bit of a wet blanket on Europe," says Krista Canfield, getaway expert for Gogobot.com, a travel app that racked up 10 million users in the past year. "I do think it's taking a toll. It's definitely having an impact on our list of rising stars this year. You're not seeing destinations from Europe on the list. Instead you're seeing people stay closer to home. Or folks who are in Europe, are heading west for vacations."
Each year California-based Gogobot releases a list of up and coming travel destinations, which is based on the activity of its site members and the reviews members post.
The number one rising star destination for 2016, according to Gogobot users, is something of a comeback kid - New Orleans. It's a city whose tourism industry was hard hit, if not all but eliminated, by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and later by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
Also topping the list of emerging destinations in the Gogobot world are Montreal, Quebec; Houston, Texas; Chang Mai, Thailand; Memphis, Tenn.; and Mexico City, Mexico. Rounding out the top ten destinations are Raleigh, N.C.; the Dominican Republic; Sacramento, Calif.; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Some of the destinations among the top ten for 2016 may seem a bit surprising at first blush, but travelers who are left feeling a bit unsettled by recent global events are looking for destinations that have the appeal of the world's most popular cities, yet exist somewhat under the radar, explains Canfield.
"When asking people for their short list, it's probably not as likely that you will come across someone who recently went to one of these places," she says. "But people are revisiting some places that had fallen off the map."
Take Sacramento, for instance. For those in Northern California, the state's capital is a quick, easy day trip and one that includes a wealth of different museums, a national basketball team (for the die hard sports fans) and a vibrant jazz and film festival. All of which has led to an uptick in reviews on Gogobot for the city.
New Orleans meanwhile, is a destination that many travelers feel has gotten back on its feet and as a result, people want to be there for vacations.
Another report providing insight into the feelings of travelers was recently released by CMO Council, in conjunction with AIG Travel.
The report, titled "How Global Voices Shape Travel Choices: The Impact of Consumer Apprehension on Travel Intention," is based on insights from a survey of more than 2,000 leisure travelers, fielded by the GeoBranding Center and Travelzoo. It also includes interviews with executives at Kenya Airways, Turkish Culture and Tourism, Air Arabia, Malaysia Airlines, Sao Paulo Tourism, the German National Tourist Office, the Israel Ministry of Tourism and others.
The resulting picture painted by the report is one in which health and safety weigh heavily on the minds of travelers.
"As leisure travelers are looking at travel plans, they are absolutely changing where they want to go based on their perception of what they consider safe and unsafe," says Liz Miller, the report's author.
The number one issue travelers are concerned about, when it comes to their safety, is acts of terrorism, according to the report. Also among travelers' fears are military conflicts and illness outbreaks.
The CMO Council found that one in four travelers changed vacation plans in the past year due to global or local safety, security or health concerns-and terrorism activity topped the list of reasons tourists will avoid travel to certain destinations.
"If you start to think about it, it's all the headlines," Miller adds.
In light of such fears, the report found that the top destinations for the coming year include such places as Australia, the Maldives and the Canary Islands.