Ireland, Myanmar, Gettysburg on 2013 travel list
FILE - This April 9, 2011 file photo shows tourists visiting Trinity College in central Dublin, Ireland. Ireland is on many lists as a hotspot for travel in 2013 because of a grassroots homecoming event called "The Gathering," inviting those who are "Irish-born, Irish-bred and Irish in spirit" to visit. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, file)
FILE - This Nov. 19, 2012 file photo shows director Steven Spielberg, left, greeting members of "The President's Own Band," a musical group of Civil War re-enactors, during a ceremony to mark the 149th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address at Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. Gettysburg is expecting an increase in visitors in 2013 as the town marks 150 years since the famous Civil War battle with a variety of events. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, file)
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2012 file photo, some of the costumes, props and memorabilia created for the "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies are displayed in a mini-museum at Weta Cave in Wellington, New Zealand. Tourism to New Zealand soared following the release of films in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and some observers are expecting the country to be a hotspot in 2013 as well thanks to the new movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." (AP Photo/Nick Perry, file)
FILE - This Nov. 19, 2012 file photo shows U.S. President Barack Obama touring the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar is on many lists as a hotspot for travel in 2013, including the U.S. Tour Operators Association, whose active members ranked the country No. 1 on a list of "off the beaten path" destinations for the new year. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
Myanmar, Marseille, New Zealand and Gettysburg are all on the travel radar for 2013 thanks to new tours, events and anniversaries. But 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 2,000 events are already planned, including events for redheads and left-handers as well as reunions based on family names and clans.
The U.S. Census Bureau says 34.7 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, and Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director of Fodor’s Travel, is one of them.
Even President Obama has an Irish ancestor in the family tree.
“There are Irish people all over the world,” Bowen 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.”
President Obama’s historic recent visit to Myanmar – the first ever by a sitting U.S. 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 traveled and are seeking that next unknown destination.
Many tour companies are adding Myanmar trips due to demand and the U.S. 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 received a huge boost in tourism from fans of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. 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 in New Zealand.
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 travelers 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.
XL Airways France is launching direct flights from New York in late May.
Next summer will see the popular 3-D 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 see the opening of Fantasy Faire, located at Fantasyland and dedicated to Disney heroes and heroines.
At Disney World near Orlando, Fla., 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 program called Limited Time Magic.