It's been a crazy 2014 for the travel community, and there were so many things to reminisce upon. However, we took a vote and broke it down to our top 10 stories of the year. Some were celebrated, some were distressing, but all made a great impact around the airports, lobbies, and train stations around the world.
Without further adieu, here are our top 10 travel stories of 2014:
10. Sochi Olympics Issues - Remember the Winter Olympics? Not many do with fondness. It was supposed to open a new era of tourism to a modernized Russia, but the not-at-all-ready venue and slew of complaints by participants and tourist alike made a more lasting mark than the games did.
9. Ride Sharing Becomes a Thing - Uber and Lyft made their mark in 2014 and are growing exponentially. No longer are you attached to a taxi when you travel as long as you have their handy apps in your pocket. Friendly drivers who offer gum and bottles of water are a refreshing breath of air to travelers.
8. Mergers and Acquisitions - TripAdvisor now runs Viator, US Airways is now a part of American Airlines, Bravofly bought LastMinute.com, Priceline acquired OpenTable, Buuteeq and Hotel Ninjas, Kimpton is now a part of IHG, Expedia owns Wotif, and so on.
7. China Visa Policy - USA and China loosened their visa policies, extending them from one year to ten. This means Chinese visitors can now make repeated visits stateside. That means there's a potential 1.3 billion tourists coming across the Pacific to fill planes, rooms and restaurants.
6. Atlantic City's Slow Death - This once-thriving casino town has struggled for years, but 2014 was soul-crushing. Four casinos have closed and The Revel, which cost over two billion to build, is struggling to stay in business. Even some airlines stopped flying to the city due to low demand.
5. Malaysian Airlines Troubles - There were two separate instances within a few months of each other for the troubled airline. First was when one was shot down over Ukraine and second when one literally disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
4. Ebola Outbreak - Some say it was overblown, but there is no questioning that the disease caused a ripple effect on the travel industry, not just for tourism to Africa but causing scares on people flying between continents.
3. What's Old Is New - 2014 saw Tokyo and Berlin surge in popularity. Japan is seeing a record number of tourists, and Germany's capital has doubled their annual attendance, fueled in part by the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
2. Airbnb Spreads Its Wings - This vacation rental behemoth has grown at an incredible rate and now has a market evaluation of $13 billion to go with an incredible new site overhaul. They have changed the landscape of online travel, taking cuts into the hotel-dominated meta-search space.
1. Cuba Travel a Thing? - A few weeks ago President Obama announced there would be opening diplomatic relations with the island for the first time since before the 1960s. This kick-started a huge buzz in the online travel space as everyone scrambles to pitch their flags on the island.