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Map: The World’s Top Countries for Tourism

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Map: The World's Top Countries for Tourism

Map: The World’s Top Countries for Tourism

Where do the world’s international tourist dollars get spent?

Today’s map from HowMuch.net resizes countries around the world based on international tourist receipts in 2017, using data from the World Tourism Organization.

Top International Destinations

Here are the world’s top countries for tourism, based on total money spent:

RankCountryInternational VisitorsDollars Spent
#1United States74.7 million$210.7B
#2Spain81.8 million$68.0B
#3France86.9 million$60.7B
#4Thailand35.4 million$57.5B
#5United Kingdom37.6 million$51.2B
#6Italy58.3 million$44.2B
#7Australia8.9 million$41.7B
#8Germany37.5 million$39.8B
#9Macao (China)17.3 million$35.6B
#10Japan28.7 million$34.1B
#11Hong Kong (China)27.9 million$33.3B
#12China60.7 million$32.6B
#13India15.5 million$27.4B
#14Turkey37.6 million$22.5B
#15Mexico39.3 million$21.3B

Data based on international tourism; doesn’t include intercountry tourism (i.e. family trip from Seattle to Hawaii)

Coming into the top spot is the United States with $210.7 billion spent by 74.7 million tourists, or roughly $2,819 per person in 2017. The country boasts attractions like the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, the Statue of Liberty, beaches in Hawaii or California, or Yellowstone National Park, with the highest rated U.S. attraction being Central Park in New York City.

Next up, Europe has a pretty impressive presence. Spain ($68B) and France ($61B) come in at #2 and #3 respectively, and also countries like the United Kingdom ($51B), Italy ($44B), and Germany ($40B) end up rounding out the top eight spots.

Macao surpasses Hong Kong and mainland China as a top destination for tourist dollars, while Australia makes the top 10 despite only having 9 million visitors in 2017.

Dollars Per Visitor

If we take international tourist receipts and divide it by the number of visitors for each country, we also see another interesting measure: dollars spent per visitor.

A country like Australia is not only massive – but it’s also quite remote for many visitors, meaning that tourists get their fill on their trips. Tourists to a destination like Australia are rarely popping in for an overnighter, and are more likely to spend extended periods of time on vacation.

RankCountryInternational VisitorsDollars Spent$/Visitor
#1Australia8.8 million$41.7B$4,734
#2Luxembourg1.0 million$4.5B$4,322
#3Lebanon1.9 million$7.6B$4,099
#4New Zealand3.6 million$10.3B$2,893
#5United States74.7 million$210.7B$2,819
#6Qatar2.3 million$6.0 B$2,647
#7Panama1.8 million$4.5B$2,416
#8Macao (China)17.3 million$35.6B$2,062
#9Sweden6.9 million$14.1B$2,060
#10Israel3.6 million$6.8B$1,888

Topping this list are places that are hard to reach for many visitors (New Zealand or Israel, for example), as well as more expensive destinations (Luxembourg).

Macao, the gambling capital of the world, also makes the list – with many of those dollars likely being spent on games like roulette, blackjack, sic bo, and fan-tan.

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Maps

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.

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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:

  • Americas
    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
  • Africa
    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.

Country2018 Spending2018 Arrivals Country2017 Spending2017 Arrivals
1. U.S. 🇺🇸$214.5B79.6M1. U.S. 🇺🇸$210.7B74.8M
2. Spain 🇪🇸$73.8B82.8M2. Spain 🇪🇸$68B81.8M
2. France 🇫🇷$67.4B89.4M3. France 🇫🇷$60.7B86.9M
4. Thailand 🇹🇭$63B38.3M4. Thailand 🇹🇭$57.5B35.4M
5. UK 🇬🇧$51.9B36.3M5. UK 🇬🇧51.2B37.7M
6. Italy 🇮🇹$49.3B62.1M6. Italy 🇮🇹$44.2B58.3M
7. Australia 🇦🇺$45B9.2M7. Australia 🇦🇺$41.7B8.8M
8. Germany 🇩🇪$43B38.9M8. Germany 🇩🇪$39.8B37.5M
9. Japan 🇯🇵$41.1B31.2M9. Macao (SAR) 🇲🇴$35.6B17M
10. China 🇨🇳$40.4B62.9M10. Japan 🇯🇵$34.1B28.6M

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.

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Demographics

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.

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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.

Global Urban Population vs. Rural

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.

global cities by size 1990 to 2030

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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