Buri Ram third on Airbnb 2020 list as MotoGP race appeals

Wat Khao Phra Angkhan in Buri Ram. The rural province is home to some of Thailand's most treasured Khmer relics, as well as a high-profile motorsports venue.

Buri Ram ranked third on Airbnb's list of top 20 destinations to visit in 2020, thanks partly to an increase in bookings for its popular MotoGP event.

Emerging destinations like Buri Ram are seeing increasing tourism appeal among domestic and international travellers, according to a recent study by Airbnb.

The analysis of its booking data showed growing interest in lesser-known destinations and eco-conscious cities globally, with Airbnb customers looking for new, local and authentic travel experiences outside of big cities.

Buri Ram saw 383% growth in Airbnb bookings for 2020 year-on-year, propelling it to third place among Airbnb's top 20 global destinations to visit next year.

The growth percentage is based on internal Airbnb data for bookings made for 2020 as of September 2019 compared with bookings made for 2019 as of September 2018.

According to Airbnb, Buri Ram's growth was driven by the popularity of the ancient Phanom Rung complex and the annual MotoGP racing event at the Chang International Circuit.

The city ranked behind Milwaukee in the US, which saw a 729% increase in bookings year-on-year, and Bilbao, Spain, which saw a 402% increase year-on-year.

Most of the increases, like in Buri Ram, were driven by big events planned next year driving travellers to the area. Milwaukee will host next year's Democratic National Convention as part of the US presidential election, with the event driving it to the top of the trending list.

Bilbao saw big gains in tourism because its urban transformation from post-industrial city to cultural hub, while also hosting one of Europe's most popular football competitions.

Following Buri Ram was Sunbury, Australia, which saw a 356% increase year-on-year because of its short distance from Melbourne, wineries and wildlife, but also for the ICC T29 World Cup to be held in Melbourne next year.

Romania saw a 298% increase because of its burgeoning reputation as an off-the-beaten-track eco-haven, while Xi'an, China's bookings increased 255% year-on-year in light of a 2020 tourism scheme that will introduce 30 night-time tour routes throughout the city with highlights including markets and performances.

Eugene, Oregon in the US saw a 213% increase, thanks to its reputation as a green city, surrounding natural beauty and track-and-field national qualifying trials next summer.

Luxembourg had an 167% increase because of its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site, while Guadalajara, Mexico was up 158% on its green credentials and unique cuisine.

The Pacific island country of Vanuatu rose by 140% for its picturesque beaches and volcanoes, while Cali, Colombia saw a 137% increase on the strength of its temperate climate and status as the world's salsa capital.

Cape Canaveral, Florida grew 136% because it will be the site of the latest Nasa launch for the Mars 2020 Exploration Program.