The Final Eight Destinations

The Travel Match challenge on Twitter (#TravelMatch) has filtered out 234 countries and destinations so far.

After 104 Matches, only seven competitions remain to choose the ultimate winner.

We’ve got some tiny little nations and islands competing against an entire continent. We’ve got plenty of communism to go around as well. Party in Rio or pray in Lhasa? If anything, the eight finalists are a diverse collection of destinations.

Europe almost joined North America and the South Pacific as an extinct Travel Match destination, but the Faroe Islands kept it alive; while Ethiopia remains Africa’s last chance at winning it all.

Only Asia and South America have more than one destination still in the running. So who is it going to be?

Let’s take a look at how each of these destinations won it’s way to the quarter-finals.

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin at Paradise Bay, Antarctica

 

Antarctica

Left in it’s wake lie the defeated nations and destinations of Antigua, Azerbaijan, Greenland, South Georgia, Madagascar and Trinidad & Tobago.

Curiosity, penguins and remoteness have lured in its voters, although of all the finalists it has the largest loyal base of people who have said they’d ‘return again’ in a heartbeat.

Bhutan

This diverse country has everything from lush forests to soaring mountains and has rode the ‘Gross National Happiness’ wave of success so far. In it’s shadow lies the defeated destinations of Bolivia, Botswana, Laos, Burma, Turkey and Papua New Guinea.

Bhutan has had both easy wins and close calls in it’s quest for the best. With another Himalayan destination in the finals – Tibet – it will be interesting to see how it fares in it’s next challenge.

Ilha Grande, Brazil

Relaxing off the coast of Ilha Grande, Brazil

 

Brazil

Images of Copacabana Beach and Carnival in Rio seem to have a strong pull in the Twitter travel world as Brazil has only had one otehr destination give it any real challenge up to now. That was the Phillippines. But Brazil proved too desirable for them in the end. Along with the Philippines, Brazil defeated Vanuatu, Guyana, Ecuador, Belize and Burundi on it’s path the the final eight.

Brazil is easily the biggest country remaining in the competition, but not the biggest destination as Antarctica looms in the background. Icy penguins or cool caipirinhas?

Cuba

Get there before you can’ has been the motto and driving force behind Cuba’s Travel Match success, with plenty of US-based Travel Match voters choosing Cuba. This fiesty littel country has squared off against some heavyweights and beat them all, most notably a close match against India. In addition to India, Cuba has conquered Gabon, Cyprus, Congo, Panama and the Cook Islands.

The landscape in Cuba is changing and will continue to change, so it is not surprising that many people want to experience the old charm that Cuba holds before it’s too late.

Ethiopia

The longest-standing Travel Match destination still in the running. Ethiopia first appeared in travel Match #8 in early 2010. Seems fitting for Ehtiopia, as it has been dubbed the Cradle of Mankind. A bit of a dark horse, Ethiopia has been chaleneged in each battle so far. But Egypt, El Salvador, Cameroon, Nigeria, Curacao and Mozambique all fell short.

Why has Ethiopia won? The diverse ethnic groups and impressive rock churches like at Lalibella are part of it, but there hasn’t been any real consensus as to why Twitter travellers choose Ethiopia.

Faroe Islands

The fate of Europe remains in the hands of this little island nation half way between Iceland and mainland Europe. A cult-like following on twitter has helped the Faroes catapult themselves into a surprise spot in the final eight. Behind them are the shattered dreams of people who voted for Fiji, France, Denmark, Norway, Montenegro and Hungary.

France gave them the hardest battle, in a very narrow victory. Can this relatively unknown place continue it’s streak of luck in the next round? Time will tell.

Blue Footed Booby Birds

Blue Footed Booby Birds in the Galapagos Islands

 

Galapagos Islands

Another archipelago has built a loyal Travel Match following. The Galapagos are known as a wildlife lovers paradise and the sheer volume of votes they have received in their matches can attest to that. This wild island charm has seen the Galapagos somewhat handily defeat Ghana, Georgia, Argentina, Colombia, Uganda and Jordan in it’s past battles.

Islands have a special appeal to them, but aside from pure nature, the Galapagos wildlife may not appeal to the party people. Can they hang on and push on through to the next round?

Tibet

Controversial to many, travelling to Tibet may mean you’re supporting China more than you think. But Travel Match is about where you want to travel, without any consequences, so Tibet has had a pretty easy ride up to now. As peaceful as they are, voters had led the Tibetan people to victory, squashing the likes of Timor-Leste, Togo, Nepal, China, Kazakhstan and Switzerland along the way.

Tibet isn’t the only Himalayan destination left, and political issues may keep it from pushing on. However, they’ve defeated China in Travel Match challenges, so never underestiamte the little guy.

Quarter-Final Matches start in October

There you have the eight finalists. New matches start soon, with a small twist.

All future matches will feature only two destinations. That should make it easier to choose your favourite, or will it?

So, while you wait – who do you predict will win it all?

About Red Hunt

A former journalist and business analyst that now works in the world of travel marketing. Based in Toronto, Red Hunt has travelled to more than 40 countries over the past 10 years. You can follow Red on Twitter @redhunttravel.