BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The setting where humans were launched to the moon and saw the scientific exploration of the stars become a historical reality has been selected as one of the top 19 places - and only Florida location - to visit in 2019 by CNN Travel.
The international list - curated by the news network's travel editors - puts the Space Coast in the company of destination luminaries like the Grand Canyon National Park, the African nations of Ghana and Egypt, along with Hawaii and Japan. The reason: space travel.
"The space industry is booming, it's something that is so attractive to every age group, every culture around the world. People know this county because of our space industry," said Puneet Kapur, the 2018 chair of Brevard County’s Tourist Development Council which is set up to promote tourism growth in Brevard County.
Florida Today reports that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo mission that jolted astronauts from Cape Canaveral and placed them on a dusty, barren moonscape a quarter-million miles away.
And this year is also expected to see Americans return to space as NASA continues to engage its commercial crew program, a historic goal expected to draw thousands of visitors to the Space Coast. During the height of the space shuttle program, up to 250,000 people crowded bridges, beaches and piers to watch the launches.
The anticipated visitors for the 2019 launches will augment the already growing tourism powerhouse that is Brevard County, which in addition to the Kennedy Space Center, has 72 miles of shoreline, popular sites like Cocoa Beach, the cruise industry at Port Canaveral, and fishing destinations.
"It's not just space but the whole way our county is set up. And with space, you can never find a place where there isn't a way to see a launch," Kapur said. "This year, space is going to be a big thing. We're expecting to draw thousands of people from all over the world."
Other locations chosen for 2019’s top destinations include a fresh look at unearthed treasures among the Pyramids in Eygpt. In Hawaii, volcanic activity will give tourists a chance to see the beauty and unforgiving majesty of a landscape reshaped by Kilauea. The list also includes New York City, which will be hosting World Pride, a massive celebration of LGBTQ civil rights and contributions 50 years after the Stonewall Riots that pushed gay rights to the forefront.
Another exotic location that made CNN’s list of places to go in 2019 is the West African nation of Ghana - visited by First Lady Melania Trump last year - which recently declared a year of return for the descendants of the 400-year-old slave trade that brought Africans to the Americas.
To read the full list from CNN, click here.