December 18, 2020
Move over New York City — the City of Brotherly Love was named one of the coveted "Best Destinations in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler.
The luxury travel magazine placed Philadelphia among its "2021 Gold List," a group of eight destinations that includes Rome and St. Barts.
Here's what editor Betsy Blumenthal wrote about the city:
"There's really something special about Philadelphia, about the way it doesn't care for pretense or about what anyone else thinks of it. One place I return to both in daydream and reality is Fairmount Park, behind the famed art museum, and the miles-long pathway that traces a circle around that part of the Schuylkill River. I think about the Italian Market and its small world of vendors, about the mosaics glinting in the sun, the digestible chaos of Chinatown, the essential, if flawed, sense of American history, the beautiful, dilapidated row houses that speak to the promise of equality we haven't yet reached as a country. Spiritually, it's my city."
The list also includes two other American destinations – Washington D.C. and Kauai, Hawaii. Peru, Italy's Amalfi Coast and New Zeland's Waiheke Island are the other international spots.
Condé Nast unveils a series of hotel rankings each year — but this year the magazine decided to expand its ranking to include everything travel-related, from cruises to bars across the globe.
"In this year’s incarnation, we went beyond places to stay, including a range of experiences we consider truly exceptional – cruises, flights, restaurants, bars, destinations – along with the deeply personal reasons why we love them," the list said. "This was the stuff we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few places we were actually able to visit – all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel."
Although travel is essentially paused for the near future, many people hope it will start back up after the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.
A dozen travel companies told the Washington Post they are experiencing booking increases for the second half of 2021. Sandals resort said it's experiencing a double-digit percentage gain in bookings for not just 2021, but into 2022 and 2023.
"With the most challenging environment comes the biggest opportunity for a return," Brad Tolkin, co-chairman and CEO of World Travel Holdings, told the newspaper. "And I think it's going to be thunderous."
Despite the widespread eagerness to get back to traveling, experts caution travelers that vaccination won't necessarily mean things will go back to normal.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout will come with its own complications, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
It's too soon to say whether those vaccinated can transmit the virus to others, so health officials say mask-wearing and social distancing will still be necessary into 2021 – because not everyone can be vaccinated at once.
Vaccine distribution plans, including those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, prioritize health care workers, nursing home residents and staffers, and essential workers.