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What's hot for 2012: Costa Rica, Thailand and even Orlando

December 16, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • A traditional light parade marks Christmas in San Jose, Costa Rica. Travelzoo predicts the Central American country will be one of the best bargain travel destinations in 2012.
A traditional light parade marks Christmas in San Jose, Costa Rica. Travelzoo… (Jeffrey Arguedas / EPA )

Travelzoo has picked its top destinations for hot deals in 2012, and only one U.S. city, Orlando, Fla., made the cut.

"We anticipate higher airfare prices, jaw-dropping hotel deals and an oversupply of cruise cabins," senior editor Gabe Saglie said in a statement about what the company calls its Wow Deal Destinations of 2012. "Based on our extensive market research, we predict that Costa Rica, Japan, the Mediterranean, Orlando and Thailand will offer the most outstanding deals next year."

Wow, indeed. That's a pretty disparate list. The company researched deals and interviewed travel executives during the past three months in making these predictions. Here's some of what it found.

--Orlando: It's easy to think the city has an endless stream of families churning through to see Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, the Harry Potter park and more. But Travelzoo says Orlando might start to feel the impact of a soft convention market and a slowdown in European tourism. If so, that could mean lots of hotel beds to fill -- at bargain prices.

--Costa Rica: Some airlines are increasing the number of flights to Costa Rica, which could signal more competition and more deals for consumers. That fits nicely with the fact the U.S. dollar goes a long way in Costa Rica.

--The Mediterranean: Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean cruise lines are collectively putting a record number of ships in European waters, Travelzoo says. With all those cabins to fill, there's bound to be good, competitive prices. An example: The early-bird price on a 10-night Norwegian Jade sailing that stops in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt starts at $549 per person, plus tax and fees.

-Japan and Thailand: Both countries will be wooing tourists as they recover from disasters, Travelzoo predicts. The March quake and tsunami in Japan and last fall's months-long flooding in Thailand have left both countries hungry for tourists. Travelzoo's Tokyo staff reports some top hotels have cut rates as much as 50%.

Check out Travelzoo's list -- and some real-time deals for those destinations.

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