Lonely at the bottom of the planet: New Zealand misses out on Lonely Planet’s top spots

This week Lonely Planet revealed its 2019 destinations list, the travel guide’s definitive collection of countries and destinations that deserve a visit in the year ahead.

2019 is the year to visit the teardrop island of Sri Lanka according to Lonely Planet, while Copenhagen, the supercool Danish capital, tops the “must-see” cities.

However, Aotearoa is nowhere to be seen.

After coming fifth on the 2018 guide New Zealand is notably absent from the Lonely Planet’s top ten lists for top Countries, Top Cities and Top Regions. It never even had a look in at the budget Best Value list.

New Zealand is used to being overlooked.

In May this year, Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby enlisted the help of PM Jacinda Ardern to create a satirical video highlighting all the times our tucked-away country has failed to be included from world maps.

From the maps of in-flight magazines to the globe in the International Court in the Hague – it always seemed the joke was at their expense. Failure to include New Zealand was an admission of ignorance. It seemed laughable.

However, there’s something about this omission which is hard not to take personally.
We’re pretty sure Lonely Planet knows we’re here. It won’t reply to our texts, or return our calls. This is “ghosting” on a global scale. We act like “rankings don’t matter” and giving too much notice is a sign of “insecurity”, but can’t help but pang of jealousy at all the fun the American travel guide is planning for next year with new-found sweethearts Zimbabwe and Kyrgyzstan.

Having had such a prominent position on the 2018 rankings, it’s hard not to feel slighted.
Unlike being left off the world map at the Ikea store, making the Lonely Planet list matters.
The company has shifted 120 million guidebooks since its inception and its online apps have launched 11 million holidaymakers out into the world.

As New Zealand is moved away from a dependency on primary industries and a more sustainable economy, tourism only gains in importance.

Holiday trends and destinations go in and out of fashion. The omission from a must-see list is a sign that New Zealand can’t afford to rest on its laurels.

With or without an endorsement lonely planet the number of visitors is set to grow. Last year New Zealand welcomed 3.7million visitors – with 2019 set to be the year break 4 million visitors marker, bringing in almost $12 billion.

Yes, that’s right: next year Kiwis will be outnumbered by visitors.

While there are plenty more must-see lists in the season, staying on the radar of prospective holiday planners matters.

There’s always a chance to rekindle the Lonely Planet travel guide in 2020. They always come back.

Lonely Planet guide 2019

Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries for 2019

1. Sri Lanka
2. Germany
3. Zimbabwe
4. Panama
5. Kyrgyzstan
6. Jordan
7. Indonesia
8. Belarus
9. Sao Tome and Príncipe
10. Belize

The top 10 regions

1. Piedmont, Italy
2. The Catskills, USA
3. Northern Peru
4. The Red Centre, Australia
5. Scottish Highlands
6. Russian Far East
7. Gujarat, India
8. Manitoba, Canada
9. Normandy, France
10. Elqui Valley, Chile

The top 10 cities

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Shenzhen, China
3. Novi Sad, Serbia
4. Miami, Florida, USA
5. Kathmandu, Nepal
6. Mexico City, Mexico
7. Dakar, Senegal
8. Seattle, USA
9. Zadar, Croatia
10. Meknes, Morocco

The best value destinations

1. Southern Nile Valley, Egypt
2. Lodz, Poland
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA
4. Maldives
5. Houston, USA
6. Argentina
7. Bangladesh
8. Albania
9. Ecuador
10. Slovenia

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