Lonely Planet Writer

The Great Barrier Reef ranked as "top travel destination" this year by US consumer group

If you’re dreaming of a trip to a “once-in-a-lifetime destination” this year, look no further than the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, according to consumer advice publisher U.S. News & World Report.

Great Barrier Reef.
Great Barrier Reef. Image by Daniela Dirscherl/Getty Images

The reef took the top spot for best vacation destination for 2016-17 at the same time the natural wonder is undergoing rapid damage from coral bleaching. According to Tourism Australia, the reef receives about two million tourism visits per year, but noted that many visitors contribute to conservation by travelling with accredited operators.

Eiffel Tower and Paris cityscape at sunset.
Eiffel Tower and Paris cityscape at sunset. Image by İlhan Eroglu

In second place is the fashionable French capital, with the report noting that Paris continues to draw in visitors due to its “wealth of culture and historic landmarks”.  In third place is a destination sure to please sun-seekers: Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Image by mestampador

For American travellers looking to stay close to home, national parks are a safe bet for an amazing trip, according to the U.S. News & World Report. The Grand Canyon took the top spot, followed by Maui, Hawaii, and two other parks – Yellowstone and Yosemite – made it into the top five.

Grand Canyon from Grandview Point, upper left is the Temple of Vishnu, upper right is the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.
Grand Canyon from Grandview Point, upper left is the Temple of Vishnu, upper right is the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. Image by Getty Images

To find the top destinations, the report used a methodology that combines travellers’ opinions with expert analysis. The report determined that the best place to visit in the Caribbean are the British Virgin Islands, followed by St. Lucia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while the best places to go in Canada are Vancouver, Toronto and Banff, Alberta.