Travel News

Revealed: Our changing travel tastes, by guidebook sales

Simon Calder’s Travel

On the list of the top 25 bestselling guidebooks I am looking at, a dozen involve just two nations.

France appears three times with whole-country guides; three more cover Paris; and individual guidebooks to Corsica and the Dordogne make the French score up to eight.

Italy is the other high performer: two whole-country guides, plus individual books for Rome and for Tuscany & Umbria.

The remainder of the list focuses on particular patches of the world:

  • City guides to Amsterdam and Prague
  • Country guides to India and Sri Lanka
  • Regional guides to Central Asia, southeast Asia and Vietnam
  • Westbound: only New York and the Caribbean make the cut from the Americas

That leaves three of the 25 titles. Each of them indicates this is not a list from spring 2024. They are all branded “survival kits”, and cover Israel, Jordan and Syria, and Cuba.

Israel and Syria are both on the Foreign Office no-go list due to the tragic conflicts in the region. Meanwhile, Cuba has lost its last regular air link from the UK, making the journey to the Caribbean’s largest island onerous and only for the strongly committed.

The list was actually compiled for me by Stanfords, the world’s largest map and travel guide retailer, 30 years ago.

In May 1994, The Independent signed me up as travel correspondent. What were they thinking? Allow me a brief diversion into the circumstances. My CV read: “Aircraft cleaner, airport security officer, maths teacher, sound engineer, guidebook writer”. It was the last of these that provided the ridiculously lucky opportunity to follow in the considerable footsteps of the original travel correspondent, Frank Barrett.

With a particular interest in the guidebook world, in May 1994 I asked Stanfords for their bestsellers.

What a difference three decades make. After a slump in sales caused by Covid and the easy online availability of free information, travel guides are enjoying a resurgence. And the top 25 makes surprising – and heartening – reading.

The most popular countries by the number of titles are no longer France and Italy; Japan and Portugal have taken over. Each has three in the chart. Japan has two whole-country guides, with Kyoto and Osaka also appearing, while the other trio comprises Portugal, Lisbon and Porto.

City guides are remarkably popular. Amsterdam and Paris are still represented, and are joined by Athens, Berlin,…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…