World’s Top 20 Fastest-growing Tourist Destinations 2019 Revealed
Wanderlust is on the rise, and that’s leading to a shake-up among the word’s most traveled tourist destinations.
Trips abroad were up 4 percent in 2019 with 1.5 billion flights overseas compared to 2018, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Traditionally popular travel destinations remained at the top of the list, such as France with more than 90 million visitors in 2019 and Spain with 83.8 million. However, their list of the fastest-growing tourist go-tos — which included war-torn nations and regions recently ravaged by natural disaster — revealed some surprise hits among vacationers last year, the Independent reported.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) saw the highest spike in tourists with a 40.2% increase, followed by Puerto Rico, who welcomed a 31.2% jump despite the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, from which the US territory continues to recover. Embattled Iran came in third with a 27.9% rise in tourism, though its standing is expected to drop following the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by US military.
This trend was reflected in data from countries such as Sri Lanka, where terror attacks over Easter last year contributed to an 18% drop in tourism. Hong Kong, too, took a 18.8% hit, most likely due to ongoing protests against their government.
But there’s hope for Iran to rise again, as countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have all made comebacks since suffering widespread terror attacks during the past few years. They rose 21.1%, 14% and 13.6%, respectively.
The “-stans” of central Asia, namely Uzbekistan (27.3%), Azerbaijan (11.4%) and Kazakhstan (10%), all made the top 20 for fastest growing travel destinations.
The Americas was the region with the least growth at just 2%, and travel to the US in particular fell by 1.3%.
UNWTO’s top-20 fastest-growing travel destinations
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%