The Haiti earthquake should make us all consider spending our cash in ways that can help others and ourselves at the same time
I recently received a gratis copy of Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2010”, and thank God it was gratis. It is a truly mind-numbingly generic book that does nothing to set the peripatetic juices flowing.
Its suggestions for the top ten places to visit – or rather the top ten places to say you’ve visited in order to improve your hip credentials – include Germany, Greece, Nepal, Portugal and the USA.
Forget globetrotting self-congratulation
But instead of indulging the kind of travel that Lonely Planet specialises in, the recent earthquake in Haiti should encourage us all to be more philanthropic. Why not spend our travel cash in a way that can benefit others, rather than just using it to boost our own sense of globetrotting self-congratulation?
A recent Travelnomics report by Cheapflights.co.uk points in a direction that can help us to do just that, listing the 10 destinations that need tourist money the most in 2010.
It is based on the Forbes list of hardest-hit economies in the wake of the global recession, and its contents strike a harsh juxtaposition to those of Lonely Planet’s selections for the year ahead.
It runs as follows:
The Baltic states that make up the top three arguably hit their fashionable peak three or four years ago when the stag parties started flowing in, while the likes of the Ukraine have never been fashionable.
But one destination sticks out amidst the eastern European getaways and the sun of the Seychelles and Jamaica, and that is Iceland.
The collapse of Iceland’s banks has been well documented, but so has its quirkiness as a location. It’s one of the few truly unique places in the world, offering a raft of natural experiences unavailable elsewhere, including dips in the Blue Lagoon and the Northern Lights.
Combine this with the fact that the exchange rate has tipped well in the traveller’s favour – from around 125 kronur to the pound six months ago to just over 200 to the pound now – and there has been no better time to visit.
And while few of us will be pumping our tourist cash into Haiti, we can all at least make a donation through the Oxfam website.
Our generosity at the beginning of this decade should overshadow the bankers’ bonuses and parliamentary expenses scandals that showed selfishness and materialism to be the defining traits of the end of the last one.