Destinations to watch in 2008

If you host the world's premier sporting event, it's safe to say you're going to have a big year. The countdown has begun to the August 2008 Summer Olympics and Beijing is kicking preparations into high gear. The city is expecting three million spectators during the event. And, even if you're not coming for the Olympics, you can benefit from the expanded infrastructure.

You don't have too look far to find improvements geared towards making the city more visitor friendly. Beijing's new airport terminal, slated to be among the world's largest, will open before the summer games. A profusion of new hotels, including openings from Best Western, Marriott, and Accor, give Western visitors more familiar accommodations choices.

United launched a new Washington, D.C., to Beijing route earlier this year. You'll find more flight options to China too. U.S. airlines American, Delta, and United are all busy forging partnerships with airlines in China to expand their route networks, which has the benefit of giving U.S.-based passengers easier booking and more mile-earning options. And 2007's U.S.-China open skies agreement means the route options between the two countries will continue to increase in the coming years.

Querétaro, Mexico

Colonial cities and legendary towns make up the Querétaro region of central Mexico. Wander through history in Santiago de Querétaro, where adjoining districts of Baroque monuments and indigenous neighborhoods illustrate the peaceful coexistence of cultures that has defined the town for the last four hundred years. In nearby Bernal, the towering rock monolith, which many say imparts a mystic energy, has inspired the official "magical town" designation. Vineyards, markets, hot spring spas, and archeological sites are among the regions other charms.

In 2008, the region will be easier to reach from U.S. departure points than ever before. And in a time when exchange rates in Europe and Canada aren't doing Americans any favors, Mexico still offers good value.

Proximity to Mexico City and new service to the region itself puts Querétaro's myriad charms within reach like never before. Mexico City is a two-hour drive from Querétaro, and recently inaugurated service on Aeromexico from Seattle and Mexicana from Portland, Oregon, makes Mexico City a convenient arrival city for more visitors.

Plus, flying directly to Querétaro will be a whole lot easier in 2008 when Delta starts service from Atlanta in January, and low-cost carrier vivaaerobus kicks off a new route from Austin in March.

India

If you've always thought of India as a destination reserved for backpackers, spiritual seekers, and guided tour-goers, 2008 is a good year to rethink that assumption. Tourism infrastructure growth is on par with China's rapid expansion, and is turning the country into a destination that's more accessible to a wider range of travelers.

New air service is making India easier to reach from the U.S. Continental, which started service between New York and Delhi back in 2005, has just added New York-Mumbai service to its schedule. Air India also recently started a New York-Mumbai route, the first of a series of planned non-stop routes between the U.S. and India. And, India's Jet Airways has just added a daily New York-Delhi route (via Brussels) as well.

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