Rwanda voted Top Emerging Destination

Rwanda voted Top Emerging Destination

Results of the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards in association with the Money Shop announced

~ New Zealand reigns again and Rwanda voted Top Emerging Destination~

2 February 2017

New Zealand continues to hold the Top Country spot firmly in its grip with a near perfect score this year in the Wanderlust Magazine Reader Travel Awards 2017 announced today, proving that the popularity of the country’s beautiful sulfuric rich volcanic landscape still wins over visitors.

The awards, which are this year sponsored by The Money Shop, took place today at a ceremony at the Destinations Travel Show in London, also saw Rwanda voted Top Emerging Destination 20 years on from the horrors of the genocide. Wales’s Year of Adventure 2016 clearly made an impact with Snowdonia clinching the Top UK Destination award.

In addition, the Wanderlust Travel Icon award, introduced for the first time this year goes to Stanfords – the world famous book and map retailer with Stores in London and Bristol.

The results in this year’s Travel Awards have also seen a number of African countries doing well, as well as those recovering from past wars. Botswana is voted in second place to New Zealand in the Top Country category with both Namibia and Kenya in the top ten, as well as new entry Sri Lanka in eighth place as it emerges from the shadows of civil war and the 2004 tsunami.

The finalists were rated by 1,800 of the publication’s readers, with a total of 165 countries, 830 cities, 440 airports and 484 tour operators being nominated; demonstrating the globe-trotting status of the magazine’s reach. Up and coming cities like St Petersburg and Budapest and new, challenging destinations such as Nicaragua and Georgia all scored well too.

The top spot for New Zealand, the country’s 9th win over the 18 years of the awards, is proof that the lure of superb mountain scenery, as well as great coffee culture, wine and wildlife experiences, continues to punch above the crowd. New Zealand achieved a near perfect satisfaction rating of 99.67% – with runner up Botswana scoring 97.93%. The new direct flights from London to Lima that launched last May have given a huge boost to Peru, judging by its third-placed finish.

However, if Antarctica or Guernsey were countries, they would have nabbed the Top Country crown. And, if Scotland was a country – and let’s face it, one day it may well be – it would have featured in ninth spot.

New Zealand continues to stand out from the crowd for our readers and we are thrilled the country is ‘top dog’ once more. In fact, ever since we started the awards in 1999 the country has not been out of the top 3, quite an achievement,” commented Wanderlust’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Lyn Hughes. 

“I’m also thrilled to announce our first Travel Icon award. For 164 years Stanfords has been selling books and maps to explorers and armchair travellers alike. With a customer roll-call which has included David Livingstone, Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Sherlock Holmes (!), Florence Nightingale and Ranulph Fiennes, countless journeys have been inspired by a visit to its iconic London store,” Hughes added.

Like New Zealand, the adventure-packed and breathtakingly beautiful Rwanda toped the poll for the Top Emerging Destination, boasting mountains, lakes and unique wildlife. Small and also landlocked Bhutan came a close second with 96.92%, whilst Bolivia dropped one position to third, with new entries Georgia and Nicaragua taking fourth and fifth place.

Proving that small countries with mountains and wildlife strike a chord with our readers, Rwanda leads this pack of highest ranking emerging countries. There’s another cause for celebration too, as Rwanda’s wildlife is also recovering with lions and rhinos being reintroduced to the country last year making Akagera National Park a Big Five destination,” continued Hughes.

Topping the bill back in the Top UK Destination category it would appear that Wales’ Year of Adventure 2016 went down well with both Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire knocking the Lakes off its consistently-held perch and into third place. Snowdonia’s recent awarded status as a dark sky reserve means it’s perfect for gazing skywards in a category that has become less urban with London and Bath dropping off the list altogether.

Kyoto with its peaceful temples and kimono-clad geishas clinched the Top City category, scoring 96.47% and nudging up from last year’s fifth position. A fraction of a percentage behind, Istanbul’s score of 96.36% is particularly heart-warming, after being marred by headlines for the wrong reasons in recent months.

Meanwhile, prolific past winners Bagan and Luang Prabang don’t feature at all, making room for up-and-coming St Petersburg, the architectural haven Budapest and Edinburgh left to fly the flag for the UK in ninth place.

Asia bags the top two spots in the Top Worldwide Airport category, with Singapore Changi winning for an incredible 15th consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong International. Asia’s dominance wavers as Tokyo Narita disappears from the top ten and Zurich gets third spot. Doha’s newest airport, Hamad was voted in fourth place, quickly making an impression after only opening in 2014.

Other category winners were as follows:

Top Tour Operator: Bamboo Travel (100%), an impressive perfect satisfaction rate. 

Top Airline: Singapore Airlines (92.48%), back on top again after conceding to Emirates in 2016.

Top Guidebook Series: DK Eyewitness Guides (85.95%) – after two years as runner up, now on pole position.

Top TV or Radio Programme: Joanna Lumley’s Japan takes a bow. 

Top Equipment Brand: Paramo (90.74%) – winner second year in a row.

Full results of the Travel Awards will appear online at:

 and will then feature in the April edition of Wanderlust on sale on 16 March 2017, priced £4.50.


For further information or to set up interviews with Lyn Hughes, editor-in-chief, or Phoebe Smith, editor, please contact Fiona Reece at Fiona Reece PR on 01242 806 804 / 07702 684682 or email



 About the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards in association with the Money Shop

The awards are based on readers’ travels from December 2015 to November 2016. Results are based on an average satisfaction score (converted to a percentage) rather than the number of votes cast. An entry required a minimum number of votes to be considered. In categories where no percentage is shown, results are based on number of votes cast.

Full results will be published here.

About Wanderlust magazine

Wanderlust was launched by Paul Morrison and Lyn Hughes in 1993. The couple were bored on a long flight to South America and decided to sketch out their dream travel magazine on the back of a sick bag. They soon decided that they could do it themselves and there was no other name for it than Wanderlust. Over the last seventeen years the magazine has established itself as the bible for independently minded travellers. Go to to find out more about the magazine and how you can vote for your favourites in travel for 2018.