Emerging urban destinations: Interview with travel expert John Golicz

///Emerging urban destinations: Interview with travel expert John Golicz

Emerging urban destinations: Interview with travel expert John Golicz

John Golicz - Travel and Adventure Show

John Golicz

John Golicz is a veteran tourism industry expert and CEO of The Travel & Adventure Show, the largest series of travel trade shows in the United States. 

When talking to Jetting Around, John shared his thoughts on general trends affecting travel and emerging urban destinations in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

What are some current trends in city travel?

One of the interesting urban trends right now are second-tier cities here in the United States, typically starting to evolve around cuisine or things that go along with cuisine, like drinks or alcohol.

One of the hot spots is Louisville, Kentucky. It’s where you start the Bourbon Trail, and bourbon is red hot. Louisville has a great food scene, there are new hotels popping up, and you see a lot of young people moving into the city. It’s a happy place for drinks, food and fun, and it takes you to Americana.

Another place is Cleveland, Ohio. There is a lot of development downtown and repurposed buildings in the old industrial areas. It’s a hot trendy spot for young and old people alike. You’ve got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of course, but also tons of new museums and hotels. It’s a great, great foodie place to go, so Cleveland is seeing a lot of increased traffic these days.

In general, you see a lot of renaissance in these industrial towns of the past – as people come in, tech moves in, medical services grow, all those kinds of things.

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville,  Kentucky – where the Bourbon Trail begins (photo credit)

What about international destinations?

I’m going to call it semi-international, because it’s so close to the US: Havana. Cubans are a friendly people, and you will find some sights, sounds and food that you can’t get anywhere else. If you can go, do it soon, before Cuba gets changed. It’s a race against the industry, building up the next tourism spot. All that is going to take 24-36 months.

Colombia is also up and coming. The political situation has become stable and you see some great cities there. Cartagena is wonderful – it’s the oldest port city in the Americas, you’ve got a Spanish and Afro-Cuban vibe going on there, some great new hotels, shops, and food. It’s a Baroque city that’s going to take you back in time, almost like in a movie.

One other place you want to look at is Pilsen, Czech Republic. Europe’s Capital of Culture 2015, it has a nice cultural vibe and lots of museums (also beer is made there). It’s another Baroque city, and you’re going to find the European atmosphere that takes you back to old movies again.

“Old World Europe” that you thought was gone is not. Kosovo, Slovenia etc. are really starting to pick up a lot of speed in tourism, as people go for value and a different sense of what Europe is all about.


Havana, before inevitable changes (photo credit)

Going forward, what other cities or regions are likely to gain momentum?

I’ve seen Taiwan growing in the past 4-5 years in terms of departures from the US.

It’s a beautiful island. You’ve got Taipei, which is full of modern culture, and the food scene there is just incredible. And you’re 2-3 hours by a fantastic train system to see different parts, e.g. coastal adventure towns on the east shore, which are exciting and yet to be really discovered and developed. You can go on the west side and get into the Oriental culture that gives you a taste of China without the hassle, i.e. smog and crowds.

Taiwan has a great golf scene going on, a great cycling scene, and adventure sports.

Can you think of general trends affecting travel these days?

You see more and more people, especially Millennials, traveling to discover foods and experiences that are meaningful to them. They’re very intuitive as far as the food and culture scene. It’s not that they don’t want to go to museums, but they’re more focused on theme trips (e.g. the Bourbon Trail).

There is also what I call the “on-demand travel” that’s starting to emerge. It’s because of the mobile device in your pocket. The phone knows what you like and offers you solutions. This trend is going to be hot in the next five years as technology comes along – all you need is going to be on that phone, even your passport and credentials. It’s going to change the way we travel.


Market in Taipei (photo credit)

Which of these cities would you like to visit? Can you think of any others likely to become popular? Leave a comment!

By | 2017-03-04T18:23:05+00:00 August 11th, 2015|Interviews, STORIES|59 Comments

About the Author:

Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, expat, and event host. Traveling has been a part of her life since she was three. Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for many years and is currently based in Paris, where she teaches Business English.


  1. avatar
    Martyna || Life in 20 kg August 12, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Kutaisi in Georgia could be a great industry tourist atraction city!

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      I need to look this up! Thanks, Martyna.

  2. avatar
    Mona August 12, 2015 at 6:34 am

    I would love to see Cuba before change, I was feeling that it’s the time, and John confirmed that for me – thanks!
    Mona recently posted..Mężczyzna tylko na mnie spojrzy i chce mnie mieć – takie są fakty.My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      I’m with you on that, Mona!

  3. avatar
    Will Castillo August 12, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Very informative article. I loved the fact that he mentions Colombia. Once you visit you will fall in love with it. Great job Pola!
    Will Castillo recently posted..Wi-Fi hotspot device in ParisMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks, Will! I was glad to see Colombia too, as it’s next on my South American wish list. That layover at the Bogota airport a few years back doesn’t count… ;)

  4. avatar
    Charles McCool August 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Taipei is one I would like to visit!
    Charles McCool recently posted..8 Great Airbnb AdvantagesMy Profile

  5. avatar
    LK August 13, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Bourbon Trail it can be would be a short trip and end up on the first bottle

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 13, 2015 at 3:56 am

      Ha, bringing a designated driver is not a bad idea. ;)

  6. avatar
    Qmoh w podróży August 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Intresting, but I don’t like cities. ;) I prefer rather small towns & lost villages.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Well, this is a city travel blog… ;) I like small towns too though.

  7. avatar
    Qmoh w podróży August 14, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I just meant cities are not friendly for hiking. It is not easy walking through modern city.
    Qmoh w podróży recently posted..Côte-d’OrMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 14, 2015 at 3:46 am

      Gotcha… Have you been to Boulder, Colorado? A great example of a mid-sized city connected to nature. It’s at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and has trails within city limits.

  8. avatar
    Darek August 14, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I think that Cambodia is going to be the new Thailand, so for city travellers Phnom Penh will be the new Bankgkok – it is somewhat inferior when it comes to infrastructure and culture, but it is also generally cheaper and nicer in every possible way and IMHO even the food is better.
    Darek recently posted..Kino australijskie: Filmy biograficzne i historyczneMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 14, 2015 at 3:48 am

      Good to know, Darek! I’m not very familiar with SE Asia, but it’s on my radar these days.

  9. avatar
    Monica @ We Travel Together August 15, 2015 at 2:29 am

    A great interview! We would love to visit Cuba before inevitable changes, but feel it’s soon too late. Hope we’ll get the chance next year or so.
    Monica @ We Travel Together recently posted..Last Day in Africa – Lots of Fun!My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 15, 2015 at 2:33 am

      I hear you, Monica! I’d love to visit this year or at the beginning of 2016, at the latest.

  10. avatar
    Vlad August 15, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I’d love to visit Slovenia and go back to the Czech Republic, two beautiful destinations in Europe. Havana looks really lovely as well :)
    Vlad recently posted..A Journey Through Northern EuropeMy Profile

  11. avatar
    Portia August 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Interesting interview! Good to know what’s going on globally with tourism nowadays. I’m eyeing a trip to Cuba this December too for the exact reason–before it really starts to change.
    Portia recently posted..The Island of Suicide and FishingMy Profile

  12. avatar
    samiya selim August 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Havana, Cuba is definitely on top of my list. Colombia and Taiwan are not far behind either!All sounds like fascinating places to visit :-)
    samiya selim recently posted..Motorbike journey through forgotten world highway to Mt TaranakiMy Profile

  13. avatar
    zof August 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Pilsen…this reminded me that there is still one big Czech city I’ve never been to, despite living the country for more than a year….I should finally go next time I’m in the country. That means…just five weeks. Yay.
    zof recently posted..Travel Flashback #25My Profile

  14. avatar
    Natalia I Zapiski ze świata August 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    I had a chance to visit Berlin following modern design track, and it was quite an experience! I think that thematic sightseeing is a great way to explore something totally new :)
    Natalia I Zapiski ze świata recently posted..Berlin – idealne miejsce na babski wypad.My Profile

  15. avatar
    Erin Marie August 18, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Great cities listed here! Cartagena and Havana are so high on my list. Wouldn’t have thought of Louisville or Cleveland, but maybe I’ll have to add them to the list too.
    Erin Marie recently posted..Exploring the Adirondack Coast Wine TrailMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Cartagena and Havana are on my list too and have been for a while. If you want to do a girls’ getaway… ;)

  16. avatar
    Marcin - NRWTrip August 19, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Havana – very nice place with with effect colors.
    Marcin – NRWTrip recently posted..Dlaczego warto podróżować na emigracji?My Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 19, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Looks like you’re one of the lucky ones who have seen it…

  17. avatar
    Karolina / OOPS!sidedown August 19, 2015 at 3:09 am

    Everybody talks about the change that is coming after Cuba. I’m starting to feel a little bit worried, will do everything to go there before Cuba starts to remind the U.S!
    Karolina / OOPS!sidedown recently posted..Polska też jest fajna: na tropie żubra z BiałowieżyMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      I’m curious about the extent of changes we can expect… After all, the big draw is what you can’t see anywhere else, the Old Havana etc. I hope Cuban tourism folks won’t forget that.

  18. avatar
    Łukasz | Kartka z Podróży August 19, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Nom, zgadzam się z tym. Zupełnie zmieniają się trendy i motywacje w podróżowaniu. Jednakże sprawa też silnie zależy od kultury i kraju, z którego pochodzi podróżnik.

    • avatar
      Za miedzą i dalej August 19, 2015 at 11:17 am

      Zgadzam się w 100%, ostatnio mało znane kierunki zrobiły się modne :)

      • avatar
        Jetting Around August 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        Właśnie. Fajnie, że te miejsca powoli dochodzą do głosu, bo na pewno mają sporo do zaoferowania.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      No właśnie. Świat się otwiera na podróżnych, ale oni też ‘muszą’ się otworzyć na to mniej znane, żeby z tego coś było. :)

  19. avatar
    Lisa August 19, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Great read! I would have to add Tacoma, Washington to the list of emerging urban cities.

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      From time to time I hear that place mentioned… Anything in particular worth seeing there?

  20. avatar
    Katarzyna B. (Wapniaki Wdrodze) August 20, 2015 at 8:45 am

    It seems to me sad that are comming days when people start to think by phone, pay by phone and travel by and with phone. Crazy!

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 20, 2015 at 10:05 am

      We’re at least half way there, it seems. I’d like to think of the phone as a helpful travel tool, but we should never forget to live away from the little screen…

  21. avatar
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) August 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Happy to see Louisville on the list. It’s a very cool city and I love it because of its proximity to the Bourbon Trail (I know that doesn’t surprise you). And theme trips – look at that! Drinkin’ With Lincoln, anyone? ;-)
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..Summer family hometown travel in ChicagoMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 20, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      You’re way ahead of the game, Francesca! When I drove through Louisville, I thought about Drinkin’ With Lincoln. Too bad I didn’t have a designated driver with me, or I would have made a stop on the trail.

  22. avatar
    Agnieszka /Zależna w podróży August 21, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Very interesting interview I was more than sad to realise I’ve read all of it – could be longer. And the burbon trail is one of my dreams!
    Agnieszka /Zależna w podróży recently posted..Sycylia: wakacje samochodem dookoła wyspyMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around August 21, 2015 at 11:52 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the read! And the Bourbon Trail does sound interesting.

  23. avatar
    Traveling Ted August 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Good to see my next international destination is on the list. I will be in Cartagena in November. I am more looking forward to seeing the Amazon though. I enjoyed Cleveland and Louisville has always interested me, but I have only driven through.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Discovering unexpected Chicago River canoe adventureMy Profile

  24. avatar
    Anda October 24, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Very interesting interview. I was surprised when he mentioned Taiwan is gaining momentum. I would have expected him to say Thailand. To me it seems everybody is traveling to Thailand these days.
    Anda recently posted..Alaskan Trails: Walking to the Nugget FallsMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Hmm, perhaps Thailand is no longer “emerging.” It seems to be the point of entry for people who want to explore SE Asia. I just got back from there and it seemed very visitor-friendly. In any case, Taiwan would be great to see too!

  25. avatar
    Marta October 24, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Very interesting interview and a few cities I should put on my list, it seems! Of the ones mentioned, I’ve only been to Havana: I was there a good few years ago and it stayed as one of the most amazing places I have ever visited – so beautiful and so culturally rich. I do hope you get to visit it soon!
    Marta recently posted..On the trail of fairies and ghosts in Greenan maze, IrelandMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Ahh, Havana! I was hoping to go there this year, but it will have to wait a few months. I just hope I don’t miss the before-it-changes window…

  26. avatar
    Mags October 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Very interesting info. I love that some “second tier” cities are getting some love.
    Mags recently posted..Tennent’s Lager Tour at Wellpark Brewery in GlasgowMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Same here, Mags! I recently drove through Louisville and wish I’d had time to explore it a bit.

  27. avatar
    carly October 24, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Quite a few of these are places I have on my radar that I’d love to visit. I’ve recently been to Cartagena which was fab. Medellin is another Colombian city that’s definitely worth a visit, I really enjoyed our time there.
    carly recently posted..San Andres a tiny slice of Caribbean paradiseMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Carly. I’ve heard great things about Cartagena and I can’t tell you how much I want to visit! Colombia has been on my wish list for so long (a layover at Bogota’s airport doesn’t count). When I go, I’ll try to see Medellin too.

  28. avatar
    Prianka | Map Halves October 25, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Really interesting interview, I have been a long time fan of what he calls “second-tier cities” – I think partially because I grew up in one (Ottawa, Canada) and then lived in one for 4 years (Daejeon, Korea). So much hidden potential to these cities off the typical tourist track!
    Prianka | Map Halves recently posted..Top 5 Cheap, Awesome Things to do in SingaporeMy Profile

    • avatar
      Jetting Around October 28, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      I agree with you, Prianka, that those cities have lots of potential! And the more visitors they get, the quicker that potential can be realized. I’ve gone to a number of “rust belt” cities (e.g. Buffalo, NY and Detroit, MI) and had a great time. Louisville is next on my list!

  29. avatar

    […] few months back I did an interview with travel expert John Golicz and asked for his thoughts on emerging urban destinations. One of the first trends he mentioned was […]

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