Holidays are good, but there are so many bloody places out there, it’s hard to know where to go. That’s where other people come in.
The United Nations have just released their Tourism Highlights Report, showing which spots increased the most in popularity in 2017. Percentage increase in tourism is not a perfect metric – if somewhere had one tourist in 2016 and two in 2017 it would show a 100% increase – but it’s as good as any. Get reading/saving/packing!
10. The Northern Mariana Islands
Tourist increase: 24.3%
The Northern Mariana Islands are in north-west Pacific Ocean, but belong to the US. There are 15 islands in all, with a total population of just under 55,000. The islands are home to Chamorro culture with its traditions of inafa’maolek (essentially being good to one another, and everyone helping each other out) and manngingi, a sign of elder respect. Also, the beaches are super nice!
Tourist increase: 24.6%
Those Visit Israel adverts on the Tube that always seem to feature the most ridiculously attractive people in the world seem to be working – Israel had a great year. Wonder Woman came out in 2017 as well – could Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s star turn have also helped?
Tourist increase: 24.9%
Nepal might find itself a little less popular soon, as revelations continue to come out about scams being played on tourists where they are forced into expensive and completely unnecessary helicopter rescues.
Tourist increase: 25.4%
With a population of just 1,600, Niue is located in the South Pacific and, like Dwayne Johnson, is commonly known as “The Rock”. It is known for its beautifully clear waters, perfect for scuba divers and filled with all kinds of beautiful turtles and monsters. You can only fly there from Auckland mind.
6. Palestinian Territories
Tourist increase: 25.7%
Palestinian Territories had a good 2016-17 increase, sure, but their 2015-16 one was even bigger, with a 57.8% increase in tourism that year. Tourism is mainly restricted to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and mostly takes the form of day-trips, but still, that’s a massive increase.
Tourist increase: 27.9%
NB. This is the former Soviet state, not the place in America where they film The Walking Dead. Georgia contains, among other things, over 2,000 natural springs and over 100 resorts.
Tourist increase: 29.1%
Extraordinarily beautiful with a truly fascinating history (not just for war nerds), Vietnam has always been incredibly popular with tourists, from the Cu Chi Tunnels to Halong Bay.
3. San Marino
Tourist increase: 31.1%
San Marino officially counts as a microstate, and is completely enclosed by Italy. It has a population of just 33,000, and a lot of its tourism industry consists of Italian day-trippers.
Tourist increase: 46.7%
In 2016, Togo had 338,000 tourists, and just a year later played host to nearly half a million. It’s one of Africa’s least developed countries but has on of its highest standards of living thanks to phosphate deposits. Tourism-wise it’s all about hiking, lakes and beautiful beaches.
Tourist increase: 55.1%
It sounds like an extraordinary increase, but Egypt actually just had an awful 2016. Plane crashes and shootings damaged the tourism industry massively, but it’s now on the up again.