(CNN) – It’s never too early to start planning next year’s big trips.
National Geographic is also getting an early start, publishing its 2023 Top 25 Places in the World list at the end of October.
Respect – for people and their cultures, for the land and its preservation – is the main theme of the list, which is divided into five official categories.
Amy Alipio, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Travel, said the hope is that 2023 will not only be a great return to travel, but also a rediscovery of wonder.
“Because when something inspires you, you respect it. And that spirit is something we want to encourage with this list,” Alipio said.
The list focuses on community-based conservation efforts, healing and heritage travel, and ways to give back to travelers, as well as places doing important work in ecotourism, sustainability and inclusive travel.
A young nang keo dancer performs in Luang Prabang, the former imperial capital of Laos.
Kike Calvo/Nat Geo Image Collection
He looks at society
National Geographic introduced a new category in this year’s list, replacing “sustainability” with the broader category of “community.”
“It’s about expanding the focus to people who aspire to sustainable destinations and showing them in a variety of ways, from making travel more accessible to supporting local businesses,” Alipio said.
Sustainability has touched each category a little more. The other four categories are nature, culture, adventure and family.
The five areas listed under the heading “Community” represent different strengths.
Ghana is listed as an important destination for Black heritage travelers in West Africa.
The Canadian state of Alberta is also on the list.
“They have been a leader in indigenous tourism, mainly by attracting travelers to learn about the stories and ways of life of First Nations across North America” and their vibrant, modern cultures, Alipio said.
A new high-speed train in Laos makes the country more accessible to visitors and brings economic opportunities to local residents.
The Great Lakes city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made the list in part because it “really supports its creative community,” Alipio said, referring to Bronzeville, which opened a cultural center focused on African American art.
In the Dodecanese islands of Greece, Karpathos stands out in terms of sustainable tourism with female leadership.
Big openings, small crowds
The list is not without great new attractions. The long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum outside Cairo makes its appearance on Egypt’s 2023 list in the “culture” category. Charleston, South Carolina will soon be home to the International African American Museum, which will open in January.
The list features US wilderness in two categories with an emphasis on getting away from the crowds.
Utah, home to five national parks, appears in the “adventure” category in part because of its efforts to direct tourists to some of its lesser-known areas to combat overtourism.
A “long-time leader in sustainable tourism,” Slovenia earns a spot in the “nature” category with a culinary bonus, combining bike trails with visits to vineyards, cheese makers and other food producers.
The Scottish Highlands, Portugal’s dazzling Azores volcanic archipelago and Botswana are also on the ‘nature’ list for their efforts towards conservation and sustainability.
Young sperm whales in the waters surrounding the Azores. The Portuguese archipelago is on National Geographic’s list of the best in the world in the “nature” category.
Andy Mann/Nat Geo Image Collection
Family, adventure and culture
Columbia gained attention with Disney’s Encanto, making it a timely choice for the family category. In California, San Francisco’s Crosstown Trail is another perfect spot for a family adventure.
Speaking of “adventure,” that category also includes Choquequirao, Peru, an Inca site that rivals Machu Picchu for more accessible and economic development.
New Zealand, a longtime adventure capital, makes the list with increasing excitement due to the resurgence of travel.
The Austrian Alps also offer great opportunities for adventure in the Bergsteigerdörfer network of 29 mountaineer villages.
Asia, which has been slower to reopen after the pandemic, is prominent in the “culture” category. Busan, South Korea appears in the category of offerings, from craft brews to Asia’s best film festival.
Although China remains closed to international tourism, the Longmen Grottoes in Henan province are also making the “culture” list as new technology draws attention to the world’s largest collection of stone sculptures.
Elephants graze among the lush waters of the Okavango Delta, which appears in the “nature” category in Botswana.
Beverly Joubert/Nat Geo Image Collection
National Geographic’s Best of 2023 list:
Appian Way, Italy
Busan, South Korea
Longmen Grottoes, Henan Province, China
Charleston, South Carolina ;
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Revillagigedo National Park, Mexico
Dodecanese Islands, Greece
Trinidad and Tobago
San Francisco Crosstown Trail, California
Manchester, United Kingdom
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