Over 16 per cent of young travellers said South America topped their bucket list, ahead of the USA (14.6 per cent) and Canada (6.7 per cent).

The survey, conducted by the TNT Travel Show 2012 and involving more than 1000 respondents, saw travellers proffer destinations as diverse as Malta, Mauritius, the UAE and Ukraine.

When asked about their travel plans just for 2012, almost 60 per cent of respondents said Continental Europe is on their map, while 50 per cent are vowing to get to grips with the UK.

France, Spain and Italy are the European destinations that most entice, while in dear old Blighty it’s the Olympic city of London that holds sway, ahead of the Lake District and Edinburgh.

Kevin Ellis, CEO of the TNT Travel Show, said: “The stars and stripes has often dominated in surveys of younger travellers, but what’s clear from our poll is that south is the new north.

“Backpackers are streaming everywhere from the Amazon to the Andes to grab a bit of the region’s awe-inspiring culture, history and scenic showstoppers. It’s truly an ‘Amazon’ outcome to our poll!”

Budget may also be a factor influencing South America’s popularity. David Forder, Head of Marketing for Flight Centre said: “Exciting times for travelling around South America.

“In recent months, Flight Centre has seen ticket prices for the region come under the £500 mark. This is really significant in making it an affordable destination.

“With prices to North America rising towards £500, the gap between these destinations is closing. Young travellers love the vibrancy of South America and it’s now something they can experience without breaking the bank.”

The survey results have been released prior to the TNT Travel Show 2012 which takes place at Earl’s Court on 3 March and is London’s biggest free travel show.

The show is sponsored by Flight Centre, along with associate sponsors Travel Talk, HostelWorld.com, GapYear.com, Kathmandu and 1st Contact.

More than 10,000 visitors are expected to flock to the event to research and book this year’s travels. Free entry can be secured by registering at www.tnttravelshow.com.