Great Comeback Cities For Travel

comeback cities - Detroit love
Flickr, Michigan Municipal League

Recently, the former automotive boomtown of Detroit made history by filing for bankruptcy, making it an easy butt of jokes on Twitter and in the news. However, Motown has also been making strides to become America’s great comeback city, with artists and entrepreneurs lured by cheap rents, and innovative projects happening all over town (disclosure: I’m a big fan of the city, and so is the New York TimesFrank Bruni). Detroit has more than a few great things going for it, including architecture, museums and sports, and tourist dollars could go a long way in helping the city recover. Can it become a tourist destination again?

Some of the top tourist destinations in the world were once no-go zones for travelers, suffering from financial crises, war, natural disasters and rampant crime. Here are a few of our favorite comeback cities:Berlin: One of the world’s most resilient cities, Berlin has been through war, occupation and one gigantic divide, and come back to thrive. In the decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, East Berlin in particular has become a hipster mecca, due to some of the lowest prices in western Europe for nightlife and a vibrant art and design scene. While not everyone welcomes the gentrification, the German capital is continuing to gain millions of foreign tourists each year.

Buenos Aires: A mix of hyperinflation, government corruption and mounting debt led to riots and an economic crisis in Argentina in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The country has stabilized and the peso value has risen, but it’s affordability has made it increasingly attractive to travelers in the last ten years, making it the No. 1 tourism destination in South America. Buenos Aires is opening more boutique hotels each year, ensuring a place every year on lists such as Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List of new hotels.

New Orleans: A longtime favorite for the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, along with events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, New Orleans was profoundly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Tourism is the biggest source of employment in the city and a major factor to its economy, and the disaster made visitor numbers plummet. Louisiana’s recovery has been slow but steady, and major infrastructure improvements brought on by this year’s “Super Gras” have helped the Big Easy come back.

New York City: Visitors to the Big Apple have topped 50 million, spending billions of dollars in the city annually. While New York has never suffered from lack of tourists, the 1980s crack epidemic and surge in crime gave it an image of being a violent, dirty and dangerous city and visitor numbers dipped. Like Detroit, it also faced possible bankruptcy in 1975 and President Ford was infamously (mis)quoted to tell NYC to “drop dead.” The terrorist attacks in 2001 caused another slowdown in visitors, but it’s now one of the safest, most visited cities in the world.

Tokyo: While Tokyo was not as devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as other parts of Japan, it definitely felt the hurt with a sharp decline in tourism, major damage to national infrastructure, and radiation concerns. Foreign visitors are now exceeding the pre-disaster levels, though seismologists worry that an even bigger earthquake is due to hit Tokyo.

An honorable mention must go to the countries in the former Yugoslavia, especially Croatia and the cities of Belgrade and Sarajevo. Twenty years ago, who could have predicted the popularity of the Dalmatian coast as a beach destination, or the battle-scarred Serbian capital as a nightlife hotspot? They aren’t quite seeing the same tourism numbers as the destinations above, but they should be on your travel radar. Istanbul and Beirut are also favorites for their many comebacks and reinventions, though the effects from current events are already being seen in the local tourism industries.

What are your favorite “comeback cities”?

#CheckIn: Hotels Cater To The Social Media Obsessed

Some people just can’t break away from their networks when they travel — and hotels are catching on. The social media-obsessed can update their statuses (complete with pictures of themselves) at Facebook kiosks set up around the Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, and at the Sol Wave House in Majorca, a special web application only available on the hotel’s Wi-Fi network allows guests to share pictures and message with one another.

But even if you aren’t looking to go to Spain, there are plenty of tools to help you connect with fellow travelers and tap into discounts and deals. Friends of Friends Travel is a free social network that helps people share everything from hotel rooms to martinis with friends and friends of friends. And travelers — even the ones who want to put their smartphones down — should be on the lookout for hotels that encourage guests to “like” and tag them. The Radisson Edwardian chain offers guests the option of a late check out if they check-in on Facebook Places or Foursquare, and chains like Caesars gift loyalty points when users share Twitter and Instagram posts. All these marketing ploys may seem gimmicky, but what’s a tweet or two when it can lead to a more enriching travel experience?

Penn Station And The Meaning Of Life In 4 Tweets

Up in the Air” author Walter Kirn, “Absurdistan” author and travel writer Gary Shteyngart, and author of more books than some people will ever read, Joyce Carol Oates, had the following exchange on Twitter this morning. If you’ve ever traveled through New York’s Penn Station, the sentiments might feel familiar.

How can New York change Penn Station? Teams of architects are on the case.

Twitter Users Give Bankrupt Detroit New Tourism Slogans

With a budget deficit believed to be upwards of $380 million and long-term debt that could be as much as $20 billion, Detroit has officially filed for bankruptcy. The city’s dire situation is no laughing matter, but Twitter users have made the once mighty Motor City the butt of their jokes using the hashtag #NewDetroitCityMottos.

Here’s a slideshow with a few suggested tourism slogans that made us laugh and some that made us grimace:
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Will Instagram’s New Embed Function Change Travel Blogging?


Instagram just announced users now have the ability to embed photos and videos, a move that has the potential to change the face of travel blogging. Now, even novices will be able to bypass fancy editing software and the hassle of YouTube or Vimeo uploads. Short clips can be composed, edited, uploaded and pasted to websites in a matter of minutes — while simultaneously being shared across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Seriously, it’s a shameless self-promoting traveler blogger’s dream come true.

Watch what a potential Instagram travel vlog (that’s a video blog, in case you didn’t know) could look like above, where McLean Robbins shows off a ghost town in Jerome, Arizona.

Of course, the downside is it’s highly likely there will be a lot more “cheating” by posting filtered photos online. And there will probably be more cliché photos — toes in a sandy beach, latte art, etc. — popping up on blogs. You win some, you lose some.

And by the way, follow us on Instagram for a constant feed of travel inspiration (how’s that for a shameless plug?).