We've got a nice clever algorithm that helps us find out.
Wikipedia publishes its logfiles, so anyone who's interested can see exactly how often a specific wikipedia page has been viewed. I'm not sure how many people use this possibility, but we sure love it. It's a rich source of data. One of the things that we can do with it is compare this year's results with last year's and find out what's trending. We call it Travel Zeitgeist.
The set up of Travel Zeitgeist is simple enough: for each location in our database we divide the number of pageviews of the Wikipedia article this year by the last year's number. If a location has significantly more visitors this year, it's trending.The results of this simple approach shows that places like Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Tunisia, Fukushima Prefecture have all received abou 10 times more visitors on their wikipedia article than last year. But in each of these cases this was due to events that took place in 2011, and not a trend.
So what we do is filter out the top three months. This means that a sudden spike in interest due to a natural disaster, a popular uprising or a brave rescue operation doesn't impact our data. This gets us the following list over trending travel destinations for 2011.
1. Budva (+764%)
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Budva is our champion. This little known beach resort in little known Montenegro has everything it takes to be a top travel destination: an old walled town with Venetian monuments dating back to the 9th centruy, sandy beaches and a great climate. How come we never heard about it before?
2. Dunbar (+434%)
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Dunbar, John Muir's place of birth, has got a nice crumbling castle, a picturesque harbor and
Of course we're not in the Mediterranean but in Scotland. Even though it's the part of Scotland that has more sunshine and sees less rain than any other part of Scotland.
3. Fire Island (+311%)
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Fire Island, just south of Long Island, has been popular with Broadway actors since the 1920s, the gay and lesbian community since the 1970s - but the islands popularity doesn't stop there. Maybe it's the crisis that more and more New Yorkers take the ferry in stead of the plane to find amazing beaches.
4. Huangshan (+301%)
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Over 1000 classical Chinese poems have been written about the mountain scenery of beautiful Huangshan and just one Wikipedia article. With the Chinese tourist industry booming like all of China, you have to hurry here if you want to get here before the crowds.
5. Kochi (+ 295%)
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It's not just China that's booming. India is doing quite okay as well. And Kochi is a favorite travel destination of Indians and international travelers alike. A rich cultural heritage, with a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese, Jewish and Indian influences and some of the best beaches of Kerala make Kochi a great place to hang out.
That's our top 5 of the 2011 Travel Zeitgeist. We'll compile a new list next year.