Fastest growing destinations

Surprise nations dominate the list of the world’s fastest-growing destinations, according to the latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

International trips reached 1.5 billion in 2019, reflecting year-on-year growth of four per cent.

France was the most-visited country in the world last year, seeing more than 90 million visitors, with Spain following at 83.8 million visitors welcomed in 2019.

And while these mainstays stayed at the top of the most-visited list, some surprising destinations saw the highest growth in visitations last year.

The highest growth in tourism last year was recorded in Myanmar, which experienced a whopping 40.2 per cent increase in visitors.

Puerto Rico (31.2 per cent) and Iran (27.9 per cent) were next, but the political climate in both countries could have an impact on visitor numbers next year.

Central Asian countries Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan all saw strong growth last year, as did Mediterranean and northern African nations Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia and Israel, and Southeast Asia’s Vietnam, Philippines and Laos.

The Middle East saw the highest growth as a region, at 8 per cent, and the Americas had the lowest growth, at 2 per cent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hong Kong (-18.8 per cent) and Sri Lanka (-18 per cent) suffered the biggest drops, due political unrest and terror attacks.

Fastest growing countries for tourism

1. Myanmar 40.2 per cent

2. Puerto Rico 31.2 per cent

3. Iran 27.9 per cent

4. Uzbekistan 27.3 per cent

5. Montenegro 21.4 per cent

6. Egypt 21.1 per cent

7. Vietnam 16.2 per cent

8. Philippines 15.1 per cent

9. Maldives 14.9 per cent

10. Bahamas 14.6 per cent

11. Qatar 14.5 per cent

12. Armenia 14.4 per cent

12. South Korea 14.4 per cent

13. Turkey 14.0 per cent

14. Bosnia and Herzegovina 13.7 per cent

15. Tunisia 13.6 per cent

16. Laos 11.5 per cent

17. Azerbaijan 11.4 per cent

18. Israel 10.5 per cent

19. Lithuania 10.1 per cent

20. Kazakhstan 10.0 per cent

Did you visit any of these countries last year? How was your experience? Would you recommend a visit there to our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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