Did you see this from Travel and Leisure?
Destinations With the Most International Tourist Arrivals in 2017
- France — 86.9 million
- Spain — 81.8 million
- U.S. — 75.9 million
- China — 60.7 million
- Italy — 58.3 million
- Mexico — 39.3 million
- U.K. — 37.7 million
- Turkey — 37.6 million**
- Germany — 37.5 million
- Thailand — 35.4 million
This list still amazes me after decades, very Eurocentric, with only two countries in Asia, one south of our border. I can only conclude that the majority of travelers have European roots?
A friend was just telling me about a friend of theirs who is currently in a little village in France. They were able to find descendants of residents of that village, and hosted a town festival with only their relatives!!!! People came form all over the world. My guess is that most were Americans or other Europeans.
Interestingly, on my very first trip to Europe in 1971, France was not high on my light. This was primarily due to the hostility that we Americans faced in the DE Gaulle inspired post war France. Obviously this has changed. Why? Maybe France has changed since its population has changed so dramatically.
Immigration to France has changed: 46% from Europe (including eastern Europe), 30% from Africa, and only 14% from Asia. A mere 10% come from the Americas and Oceania. For this reason alone, I begin to suspect that the typical “Frenchman” no longer harbors much animosity to Americans, and travelers in general.
Of the top ten countries listed, Turkey** is the only place I have not visited. But here are the fastest growing places to visit, which is dramatically different than the first list:
- Egypt — 55.1%
- Togo — 46.7%
- Vietnam — 29.1%
- Palestine — 25.7%
- Niue — 25.4%
- Nepal — 24.9%
- Israel — 24.6%
- Northern Mariana Islands — 24.3%
- Turkey (tie) — 24.1%**
- Iceland (tie) — 24.1%
- Macedonia — 23.5%
Out of these eleven countries, by contrast, I have been to only two: Vietnam, and Nepal. Several, I have no desire or reason to visit: Togo, Palestine, Niue, Israel, Mariana, and Macedonia. Again, I would love to visit Turkey** if the politics settle down next year.
But why are these countries growing their tourism so fast? I can only guess, but part of the reason might be a combination of cheap flights, and no requirement of a visa. For instance, Egypt is a favorite places of eastern Europeans, since flights are plentiful, and no visa is required. I have no idea on many of the other countries on the list.
Personally, I found Vietnam to be charming and beautiful country, with friendly people, good food, and an interesting past. I would imagine a good percentage of travelers are retired military who were forced the endure the war in the 60s and early 70s. For me, the French colonial roots, culture, and food are a big draw to Hanoi, in particular. This will be my third visit to Vietnam (next month).
The initial reason we visited Nepal was to experience the culture, and to see Mount Everest. It is definitely a third or fourth world place, void of much tourist infrastructure, But we were able to make a great connection to a local guide, and his family. Would I go back? Probably not. Once is enough for many of the places we have visited.
How some of these places made this list is a surprise to me! Where is the heck is Togo (a west African country, between Ghana and Benin), and what is there? And who would go to the middle east (Palestine and Israel) unless you have ancestors from there? And Niue, a South Pacific island with less than 2000 residents. I hear they are in the middle of the whale migration. Macedonia, why?
I am sure you have your own travel goals, whether based on your own interests or ethnicity. For us, getting to my mother country, Japan, took about a decade to happen. The issues were language and cost. Once those barriers were addressed, we made Japan a top priority. And it remains so, particularly with the 2020 Olympics being hosted in Tokyo. Oh, and the vast amount of inexpensive, Michelin starred restaurants there.