Top 10 Tourism Destinations In The World – The tourist season is underway, especially in the rich regions of the northern hemisphere. New figures released by the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer state that “international tourist arrivals reached 1.138 million in 2014, an increase of 4.7% compared to the previous year”.
I am mapping the geographic patterns of global tourism for the book ‘How to Land a Jumbo Jet’ published by Lonely Planet. The cartogram below shows the countries of the world resized by international tourist arrivals with the top 10 destinations also marked (and listed in the lower right corner), colored in Worldmapper style:
Top 10 Tourism Destinations In The World
The overall pattern of global tourist destinations has remained stable over the past decade. Comparing the 2003 figure shown in Worldmapper with the one updated above, the major regions have barely changed in global shares even during periods of reduced absolute tourism profits (such as since the 2008 global recession). Quoting again from the World Tourism Barometer, global tourism destinations in 2014 look like this:
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Europe (+4%), the most visited region with more than half of the world’s international tourists, increased by 22 million arrivals in 2014, to a total of 588 million. Thanks to these results, tourism has become a major contributor to Europe’s economic recovery. Northern Europe and Southern Europe and the Mediterranean led the growth (both +7%), while the results were more modest in Western Europe (+2%). Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe (0%) are stagnating after three years of strong growth.
International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific (+5%) increased by 13 million to 263 million. The best performance was recorded in Northeast and South Asia (both +7%). Arrivals in Oceania increased by 6%, while growth slowed in Southeast Asia (+2%) compared to previous years.
The Americas was the best relative performing region with growth of 7%, receiving an additional 13 million international tourists and bringing the total to 181 million. Growth was driven by North America (+8%), where Mexico recorded a double increase, and the Caribbean (+7%). Attendance in Central America and South America (both +6%) doubled from the level recorded in 2013 and exceeded the world average.
International tourism in the Middle East (+4%) is showing signs of recovery with good results in most destinations. The region attracted an additional 2 million arrivals, bringing the total to 50 million. The number of African international tourists increased by approximately 2%, equivalent to an increase of one million arrivals. The region reaches 56 million tourists. While arrivals in North Africa were low (+1%), in sub-Saharan Africa the number of international tourists increased by 3% despite the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in several West African countries. Figures for Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution as they are based on limited and variable data.
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Another map included in Lonely Planet’s infographic book shows the world’s population, the most remote places on Earth and the busiest airspace on the planet. Other questions answered by other charts include the best places to experience volcanoes, the proudest country in the world, or why your luggage sometimes gets lost on flights.
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The beautiful places below are organized into tropical/warm, arctic/cold, and architecture. No matter where you live in the world, there are amazing places to visit and architectural landmarks to see. To be honest, there are thousands of places that could be on this list, but I hope this list satisfies those that are left out.
The purpose of life is to do, to feel, to feel to the fullest, to reach out with passion and without fear for new and richer experiences. – Eleanor Roosevelt
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Kauai in Hawaii holds the medal for the rainiest place on earth, so it’s a tropical paradise. Walk, swim, bike and dive.
Bora Bora is an island that was once a volcano, which later retreated and became a coral reef. Coral ecosystems allow for clear blue water and corals limit waves, providing shelter.
Longsheng is named after Longji, which means dragon’s spine. The terrace resembles the scales of a dragon like a field snake that rushes through the mountains.
Victoria Falls, bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe, is the largest waterfall in the world by total area. The falls carry an incredible 1,088 cubic meters of water per second down a cliff of about 35 feet.
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The Amazon River is the artery for the world’s largest rainforest. This river is the largest river in the world in terms of flow and one of the largest in terms of length. The surrounding rainforest represents more than half of the world’s remaining rainforests.
The rainbow mountains of Zhangye Danxia, China, China, show weathering and erosion at its best. The dramatic colors throughout the mountain are the result of trace minerals bound in the sandstone, giving the sand its red, green and yellow hues.
Railay, Thailand is a magical place that can only be reached by boat on a small Thai peninsula. Spend your days climbing limestone cliffs, exploring vast cave systems, or swimming to nearby islands.
Neuschwanstein, a 19th-century castle in southern Germany was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. This German haven opens regularly in the summer as a symbol of protection and peace.
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The colorful display of nature in the arctic sky is one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions. Unfortunately, it’s a bit unpredictable so be sure to leave plenty of time to try a few times.
Antarctica is on average the coldest, windiest, driest and highest of the 7 continents. However, this desert continent is home to millions of penguins of various species.
Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the USA, and perhaps in the world. Drive through the park and discover an array of wildlife within 10 feet of you.
Fjords are formed by the slow erosion of mountain valleys as glaciers descend towards the sea. Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska is home to orcas and an environment that is rapidly disappearing.
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Torres Del Paine in southern Patagonia is a national park with beautiful mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers. Take a trip to southern Patagonia and you can climb a partial or full circuit around the stunning granite peaks in the background of the photo above.
The extremely cold island of Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, north of continental Europe. Svalbard is the northernmost permanently inhabited settlement in the world. When traveling through Svalbard, it is not uncommon to see polar bears, reindeer, and perhaps arctic foxes.
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