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The USA is the most popular long-haul destination for Brits, with up to 3 million holidaymakers crossing the pond each year. While families favour Orlando and California for the Disney theme parks – cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are all hugely popular.
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Often described as a friendlier, more liberal cousin to the USA, this stunningly beautiful country has plenty to offer holidaymakers. Sports have been a big focus for the Canadian tourist boards, culminating in the Winter Olympics of 2010, held in Vancouver. Although Canada is still a hugely popular destination, the data from the ONS suggests that around half as many Brits are holidaying in Canada today as they were in 2006.
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Famed for the ‘golden triangle’ of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, tourism to India boomed shortly after the turn of the millennium, but tailed off post-recession. There are still over 200,000 Brits – from gap-year backpackers to retirees – eager to sample the country’s fragrant culture and unquestionable beauty.
British leisure tourism to Mexico has grown dramatically over the last 20 years, with Cancún driving most of this growth. The city is famed for non-stop partying during the spring, but the beauty of its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters can be enjoyed all year round. In 2012, Mexico was the centre of attention as the end of the Mayan Calendar grew nearer, and so-called ‘end-of the-world tourism’ took off.
Whether you’re more interested in the ancient temples or the decadent beach parties, it’s no surprise that the number of Brits visiting Thailand has been rising steadily over the last two decades. Perhaps some were taking inspiration from Leonardo Di Caprio in The Beach which was set at Maya Bay, a stunning beach cove located 30 minutes away from the popular Ko Phi Phi.
Thailand made an incredible recovery following the devastating Tsunami in 2004, so much so that in 2013, it was voted the most popular destination for backpackers. Famed for its vibrant cuisine and magical jungles, interest in Thailand looks set to keep on growing.
Few destinations have boomed over the last 20 years as much as the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is the place to go for breath-taking skyscrapers, sun kissed beaches and a fast-moving culture that combines east with west. Abu Dhabi offers even more luxury; so much so that in 2010, HBO chose this dazzling location as the setting for Sex and the City 2!
Famed for Table Mountain, vast national parks and the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa found itself in the spotlight when it hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, however the number of Brits visiting the country in recent years has been a long way from the figures seen in 2006.
Hosting the Sydney Olympics in 2000, tourism to Australia grew in the years that followed, with up to 300,000 Brits a year flying down under to sample golden beaches, lush rainforests and the Aussie’s laidback lifestyle. Despite that, there’s been a sharp decline in visits since 2005.
As many as 150,000 British holidaymakers are drawn to the sights and sounds of Jamaica each year. The numbers have fluctuated considerably over the last two decades, but there’s been promising growth since 2013. Jamaican golden boy Usain Bolt has helped promote his home nation, starring in advertising campaigns promoting tourism. The local economy also received a boost as 2000 new hotel rooms were created in 2012, leading to a record number of visits from Brits in 2015.
There’s plenty of competition from other Caribbean islands, but with its welcoming beach resorts, colourful culture and bountiful seafood, Barbados is still a mainstay for Brits, and like Jamaica, it has seen a post-recession recovery. Barbados-native Rhianna starred in a campaign promoting the island which proved very popular. This, combined with new routes from the UK seemed to give Barbados’ tourism industry the boost it needed towards the end of 2015.