Map: The Top Tourist Attraction in Every Country
View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
Even as early as a decade ago, if you were backpacking in a foreign place, it was not uncommon to rely on the wisdom printed in travel guides such as Lonely Planet or Rick Steves to choose your day-to-day activities.
“Go off the beaten path to see this secluded black sand beach that’s only used by locals.”
“See this historic city tour, because it’s a hidden treasure that you won’t find in any other guidebook.”
Tips like these felt like secrets only privy to you and other smart readers – and while you were sitting on that hidden black sand beach, you could revel in the fact that the rest of the travelling masses were stuck in a two-hour line to get into some silly tourist trap.
For better or worse, things are now very different.
The Crowdsourced Era
Today’s infographic comes to us from Vouchercloud, and it shows the top rated “Thing to Do” for every single country in the world, according to Tripadvisor reviews.
In other words, the list is based on the amalgamation of millions of reviews from fellow travelers that have experienced these sights or activities first-hand.
On the upside, these reviews are coming from your peers. People just like you have rated all of the attractions in an area – from tourist trap to hidden gem – and the end result is pretty fair and democratic.
But this democratic component also has a downside. In the United Kingdom, for example, the highest rated activity is not seeing Big Ben, Ancient Roman baths, Stonehenge, or the Churchill War Rooms – it’s the Harry Potter Studio Tour, with 32,000+ reviews and 83% of reviewers giving it a perfect 5-star rating.
While the Harry Potter tour is obviously a popular attraction, it’s not likely representative of the type of attractions that old school travel critics may have raved about in their travel books.
Top Things to Do
In the map, the top tourist destinations are broken down based on the type of attraction.
Here’s the mix of top destinations for the 197 countries and jurisdictions included in the analysis:
|Type of attraction||# of countries||% of countries|
The top category of attraction is natural (38.6%), which includes places like Canada’s Niagara Falls or Norway’s Geiranger Fjord. Meanwhile, historic attractions like China’s Great Wall made up 27.4% of the total, and places of religious significance such as Thailand’s Temple of the Reclining Buddha were the top tourist attraction for 14.7% of the countries.
The remaining category, called “Tourist” includes a much wider variety of destinations within it.
These attractions range from Central Park in the New York City to the aforementioned Harry Potter Studio Tours in the United Kingdom. The wide category also includes museums like France’s Musee d’Orsay, which holds a staggering collection of impressionist art, as well as Germany’s Miniatur Wunderland, which is a massive miniature railroad in Hamburg.
Mapped: Top Countries by Tourist Spending
How much do your vacations contribute to your destination of choice? This visualization shows the countries that receive the most tourist spending.
Mapped: Top Countries by Tourist Spending
Many people spend their days looking forward to their next getaway. But do you know exactly how much these vacation plans contribute economically to your chosen destination?
Today’s visualization from HowMuch.net highlights the countries in which tourists spend the most money. Locations have been resized based on spending amounts, which come from the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Oh, The Places Tourists Will Go
Across the different regions, Europe’s combined tourist spending dominates at $570 billion. Easy access to closely-located countries, both via rail networks and a shared currency, may be a reason why almost 710 million visitors toured the region in 2018.
Asia-Pacific, which includes Australia and numerous smaller islands, saw the greatest growth in tourism expenditures. Total spending reached $435 billion in 2018—a 7% year-over-year increase, from 348 million visitors. Not surprisingly, some areas such as Macao (SAR) tend to rely heavily on tourists as a primary economic driver.
Here’s how other continental regions fared, in terms of tourist spending and visitors:
Total expenditures: $333 billion
Total visitors: 216 million
Expenses per visitor: $1,542
- Middle East
Total expenditures: $73 billion
Total visitors: 60 million
Expenses per visitor: $1,216
Total expenditures: $38 billion
Total visitors: 67 million
Expenses per visitor: $567
Of course, these numbers only paint a rudimentary picture of global tourism, as they vary greatly even within these regions. Let’s look closer at the individual country data for 2018, compared to previous years.
The Top Tourist Hotspots, By Country
It seems that many tourists are gravitating towards the same destinations, as evidenced by both the number of arrivals and overall expenditures for 2017 and 2018 alike.
|Country||2018 Spending||2018 Arrivals||Country||2017 Spending||2017 Arrivals|
|1. U.S. 🇺🇸||$214.5B||79.6M||1. U.S. 🇺🇸||$210.7B||74.8M|
|2. Spain 🇪🇸||$73.8B||82.8M||2. Spain 🇪🇸||$68B||81.8M|
|2. France 🇫🇷||$67.4B||89.4M||3. France 🇫🇷||$60.7B||86.9M|
|4. Thailand 🇹🇭||$63B||38.3M||4. Thailand 🇹🇭||$57.5B||35.4M|
|5. UK 🇬🇧||$51.9B||36.3M||5. UK 🇬🇧||51.2B||37.7M|
|6. Italy 🇮🇹||$49.3B||62.1M||6. Italy 🇮🇹||$44.2B||58.3M|
|7. Australia 🇦🇺||$45B||9.2M||7. Australia 🇦🇺||$41.7B||8.8M|
|8. Germany 🇩🇪||$43B||38.9M||8. Germany 🇩🇪||$39.8B||37.5M|
|9. Japan 🇯🇵||$41.1B||31.2M||9. Macao (SAR) 🇲🇴||$35.6B||17M|
|10. China 🇨🇳||$40.4B||62.9M||10. Japan 🇯🇵||$34.1B||28.6M|
Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Note that data is for international tourism only and does not include domestic tourism.
The top contenders have remained fairly consistent, as each country brings something unique to the table—from natural wonders to historic and man-made structures.
Where Highest-Spending Tourists Come From
The nationality of tourists also seems to be a factor in these total expenditures. Chinese tourists spent $277 billion internationally in 2018, likely thanks to the increasing consumption of an emerging, affluent middle class.
Interestingly, this amount is almost twice the combined $144 billion that American tourists spent overseas in the same year.
Mapped: The Dramatic Global Rise of Urbanization (1950–2020)
Few global trends have matched the profound impact of urbanization. Today’s map looks back at 70 years of movement in over 1,800 cities.
The Dramatic Global Rise of Urbanization (1950–2020)
In the 21st century, few trends have matched the economic, environmental, and societal impact of rapid urbanization.
A steady stream of human migration out of the countryside, and into swelling metropolitan centers, has shaken up the world’s power dynamic in just decades.
Today’s eye-catching map via Cristina Poiata from Z Creative Labs looks at 70 years of movement and urban population growth in over 1,800 cities worldwide. Where is the action?
Out of the Farms and Into the Cities
The United Nations cites two intertwined reasons for urbanization: an overall population increase that’s unevenly distributed by region, and an upward trend in people flocking to cities.
Since 1950, the world’s urban population has risen almost six-fold, from 751 million to 4.2 billion in 2018. In North America alone, significant urban growth can be observed in the video for Mexico and the East Coast of the United States as this shift takes place.
Over the next few decades, the rural population is expected to plateau and eventually decline, while urban growth will continue to shoot up to six billion people and beyond.
The Biggest Urban Hot-Spots
Urban growth is going to happen all across the board.
Rapidly rising populations in megacities and major cities will be significant contributors, but it’s also worth noting that the number of regional to mid-sized cities (500k to 5 million inhabitants) will swell drastically by 2030, becoming more influential economic hubs in the process.
Interestingly, it’s mainly cities across Asia and Africa — some of which Westerners are largely unfamiliar with — that may soon wield enormous influence on the global stage.
It’s expected that over a third of the projected urban growth between now and 2050 will occur in just three countries: India, China, and Nigeria. By 2050, it is projected that India could add 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million, and Nigeria 189 million.
Urbanization and its Complications
Rapid urbanization isn’t only linked to an inevitable rise in city populations.
Some megacities are actually experiencing population contractions, in part due to the effects of low fertility rates in Asia and Europe. For example, while the Greater Tokyo area contains almost 38 million people today, it’s expected to shrink starting in 2020.
As rapid urbanization continues to shape the global economy, finding ways to provide the right infrastructure and services in cities will be a crucial problem to solve for communities and organizations around the world. How we deal with these issues — or how we don’t — will set the stage for the next act in the modern economic era.
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