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22 October 2019 20:35

Andy Murray Jamie Murray Tennis

Why Bhutan, ‘world’s last Shangri-La’, tops Lonely Planet’s 2020 best places to visit list

The Kingdom of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures success not by economic growth but by gross national happiness, has been chosen as the best travel destination for 2020. Lonely Planet, a travel guide publisher, released the top 10 countries to visit on Tuesday. Below is the complete list of top 10 countries to visit next year: Bhutan, located on the Silk Road in South Asia, was at the top of the list, partly because of its beauty, but also because it is the only carbon-negative country in the world. Bhutan is set to become the first organic nation by 2020 [File: Getty Images] England was listed at second place, despite the political impasse it is suffering due to Brexit. Lonely Planet highlighted the English coastline as a "peaceful place where locals and visitors can enjoy more tranquil pursuits".

By 2020, new sections of the England Coast Path will open, leading to the longest continuous trail of its kind in the world. The Lonely Planet highlighted the beauty of England's coast [File: Getty Images] Third place went to North Macedonia, which changed its name last year after decades of political debate with neighbouring Greece. The Balkan country is renowned for "gastronomy, ancient tradition and nature," Lonely Planet said. The third place went to North Macedonia [File: Getty Images] "Aruba has offered the island to be a testing hub for other countries' renewable energy solutions and is working to implement a ban on all single-use plastics and reef-destroying sunscreens in 2020," the publication noted. Aruba has offered the island to be a testing hub for other countries' renewable energy solutions [File: Getty Images] Lonely Planet described the southern African nation as a place "packed with culture, adventure and legendary wildlife".

eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) is one of Southern Africa's most 'underrated destinations' [File: Getty Images] The Republic of Costa Rica was listed in sixth place due to its efforts "for sustainable tourism". "Ninety percent of the country's energy is created by renewable sources, and it could become one of the first carbon-neutral countries in 2020," Lonely Planet said. Costa Rica was recognised for acknowledging the importance of preserving its environment [File: Getty Images] The European nation is set to celebrate 75 years of freedom since World War II next year, with a host of events. Netherlands will celebrate 75 years of freedom since WWII in 2020 [File: Reuters] Liberia was in eighth place, with Lonely Planet highlighting its natural wonders, including the Sapo National Park, the second-largest area of primary rainforest in West Africa. Ninth place went to Morocco due to its time-honoured attractions and improved infrastructure, including Africa's first high-speed train.

In tenth place was Uruguay, with Lonely Planet highlighting the Latin American country's 660km (410 miles) of Rio de la Plata an Atlantic shoreline, as well as its progressive social agenda in recent years. The only country which measures progress by the happiness of its citizens rather than its wealth has been named by the Lonely Planet travel guide as the top nation to visit in 2020. For example, Bhutan was the last nation to legalise the television in 1999 over fears it would diminish its culture. A temple in Punakha Dzong in Bhutan, which has been named the best country to visit in 2020 by the Lonely Planet guide. Travel gurus Lonely Planet have released their annual 'Best of Travel' report – detailing their top picks for tourists in 2020.

1. Bhutan (Lonely Planet/PA) The world's only carbon negative country, Bhutan values natural beauty more than foreign dollar, and it shows. 2. England (Lonely Planet/PA) We know, rainy old England may not scream summer vacay, but between the Lake District, the Yorkshire Moors and the Cornish coastline, it's quietly building a reputation for natural beauty that's been long deserved. Known worldwide for its urban treasures, the judges were compelled instead by the new England Coast Path – a vast trail skirting much of the shoreline, set to be the largest of its kind on debut in 2020. 3. North Macedonia (Lonely Planet/PA) If you know the country for anything, it's probably the landscape, but more persistent travellers will find no end of cultural curiosities and a flare for fine dining. For all you pedants out there, Aruba is only sort of a country (it's a "constituent nation" of the Netherlands), but that won't impact your holiday one jot.

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5. eSwatini (Lonely Planet/PA) The country formerly known as Swaziland, eSwatini has changed its name, but retained its natural marvels and delightfully sunny disposition. One of the least visited countries in Africa – and that's saying something – poor infrastructure has long discouraged even more intrepid travellers, but now an new international airport is set to put this landlocked nation on the map. The rest of the top ten include The Netherlands, Liberia, Morocco and Uruguay. England has been listed as one of the best countries in the world to visit next year by travel experts Lonely Planet. The guide's newly published Best in Travel 2020 guide puts England in second place behind only Bhutan, the small Himalayan nation famed for its spectacular scenery and Buddhist temples. Rounding out the top five behind England were North Macedonia, Aruba and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland). Here's a look at the full list of the best travel destinations for 2020: But this tiny mountainous nation is growing in stature when it comes to tourism, especially - as Lonely Planet puts it - "with green travel and overtourism on the minds of many travellers". But not Lonely Planet, which suggests that the opening of new stretches of the England Coast Path next year will "provide travellers with more access to the wonders of the English shore". "Taking a bracing walk on a windswept pier, eating delicious fish and chips, searching for marine life in rockpools, finding fossils in ancient cliffs, building sandcastles and dolphin-spotting on picturesque beaches are just some of the activities offered by the English seaside," the travel guide says. Known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or simply Macedonia) until a historic agreement with Greece last year, North Macedonia is a naturally diverse nation in the southern Balkans featuring dramatic mountains, canyons and lakes. The country, whose grandiose capital Skopje is one of the most architecturally striking cities in southern Europe, is characterised by a complex but fascinating national identity and millennia of history. The Caribbean island of Aruba is a controversial choice as it is not technically a sovereign nation (rather a part of the Netherlands) but its picture-perfect beaches, complete with palm trees and white sand, have landed it a place in the top five. "With a flurry of new home-sharing accommodation and experiences on offer, an authentic, more affordable, and sustainable Aruba awaits among its palm-fringed and pristine beaches," Lonely Planet says. Eswatini is another country to have undergone a major rebranding effort recently, having been known as Swaziland for decades prior to 2018. Offering world-class safari experiences for intrepid travellers, the country is currently one of the least-visited in Africa, but this is set to change in 2020 with the opening of a new international airport and improved road network. Costa Rica has long been a mainstay for Americans looking for warmer climes and blue waters in winter, but the country looks set to open up to the wider world in 2020. Like others on the list, the country is courting the travelling community by promoting sustainability, with 90% of its energy created by renewable sources. The total number of foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands in 2017 was 16.2 million, making it one of the more mainstream options on Lonely Planet's list. However, that doesn't make it any less desirable as a destination for laid-back travellers, with one of the best rail networks in Europe transporting visitors between a whole host of historic sites, tulip fields and trademark windmills. Lonely Planet says that the country, founded by freed slaves from the US in the 1800s, is chock full of "natural wonders" such as "idyllic beaches" and dense rainforest that could lure visitors next year. "From marijuana legalisation and the open embrace of LGBTQ+ rights to the promotion of sustainable tourism," Lonely Planet says, Uruguay has "proudly championed a progressive social agenda in recent years".