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 4%.
Welcoming over 90 million arrivals last year, France remained the most-visited country in the world, with Spain’s 83.8 million visitors good enough for second place.
But which nations saw the highest growth in visitation in 2019? From Southeast Asia to the Middle East, Central Asian hotspots to island paradises, the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations are as diverse as they are surprising.
After some number crunching, The Independent found that the highest growth in tourism last year was recorded in Myanmar, which experienced a whopping 40.2% rise in visitors over 2018.
Following Myanmar were Puerto Rico (31.2%) and Iran (27.9%), which will likely lose visitors this year due to its current political climate.
Other destinations that saw strong growth in 2019 were Central Asian countries Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, Mediterranean and northern African nations Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia and Israel, and Southeast Asia’s Vietnam, Philippines and Laos.
Outside of the top 20, Caribbean nations performed well, with visits to Anguilla, St Maarten, Dominica and the US Virgin Islands all up significantly, while Hong Kong (-18.8%) and Sri Lanka (-18%) suffered the biggest drops, thanks mostly to the their respective political unrest and terror attacks.
Among regions, the Middle East saw the highest growth, at 8%, while the Americas saw the lowest, at 2%.
Fastest growing countries for tourism
1. Myanmar 40.2%
2. Puerto Rico 31.2%
3. Iran 27.9%
4. Uzbekistan 27.3%
5. Montenegro 21.4%
6. Egypt 21.1%
7. Vietnam 16.2%
8. Philippines 15.1%
9. Maldives 14.9%
10. Bahamas 14.6%
11. Qatar 14.5%
12. Armenia 14.4%
12. South Korea 14.4%
13. Turkey 14.0%
14. Bosnia and Herzegovina 13.7%
15. Tunisia 13.6%
16. Laos 11.5%
17. Azerbaijan 11.4%
18. Israel 10.5%
19. Lithuania 10.1%
20. Kazakhstan 10.0%
Subscription successful! Thank you for subscribing.