Exotic travel is a comfy business to be in these days. Travel to the Middle East and Africa was up 11 and 5 percent in 2008, respectively, but travel to more traditional vacation or business destinations, Europe and Asia, declined 3 percent in the second half of the year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
South Africa is an increasingly popular destination, with pristine beaches, bargain wine and safaris on the menu. "The American supply of tourists seems to be holding its own," says Paul Gardiner, the international marketing director for Mantis Collection, a group of luxury game reserves and hotels in South Africa. Gardiner calls South Africa "the flavor of the month" because "It's one of the cheapest destinations in the world right now." As it stands, the exchange rate is about 10 South African rand to one U.S. dollar. Toss back a beer for just 4 rand, or about 40 cents here.