If you didn’t know it already, it’s not surprising that international tourism is not about to slow down anytime soon. According to the latest information from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2018 Tourism Highlights Report, there were 1.32 billion global tourist arrivals, a staggering 84 million travellers more than the year before. If battling crowds outside attractions in dream destinations like France are not your thing, why not get ahead of the curve and check out some promising alternatives? Here are the fastest-growing destinations for 2019 (and where we think you should go for your tour or trip instead).
Top destinations from the UNWTO 2018 Tourism Highlights Report
There’s been a boom in travel. In 2017, the world saw the highest figures in international tourist arrivals since 2010! Better flight routes, cheaper flights, increased options in accommodation and a willingness to plan shorter trips (quality over quantity), are enabling globetrotters to take more holidays! So which countries are attracting the most travellers?
Here are the top ten countries that saw the most traffic:
- France — 86.9 million
- Spain — 81.8 million
- United States — 75.9 million
- China — 60.7 million
- Italy — 58.3 million
- Mexico — 39.3 million
- United Kingdom — 37.7 million
- Turkey — 37.6 million
- Germany — 37.5 million
- Thailand — 35.4 million
While some destinations (like the ones above) were dealing with intense crowds, other countries that have struggled with tourism had an opportunity to recover. Some of the fastest-growing destinations in the UN report will pique the interest of explorers looking to get off the touristed path and for options outside the usual travel destinations.
There are two reasons why certain countries are coming back from a decline. Firstly, the Internet and social media are playing a considerable role dispelling the usual soundbites found in the news, allowing countries with political unrest and security issues to be seen in a different light. Secondly, there have been efforts to promote tourism once again in safer parts of the countries.
Fastest-growing tourist destinations for 2019 by percentage:
- Egypt — 55.1%
- Togo — 46.7 0%
- San Marino — 31.1%
- Vietnam — 29.1%
- Georgia — 27.9%
- Palestinian territories — 25.7%
- Niue — 25.4%
- Nepal — 24.9
- Israel — 24.6%
- Northern Mariana Islands — 24.3%
Buzzing countries you need to look into visiting in 2019
2019 is the year to feed your wanderlust. If your dream destinations and the fastest-growing tourist destinations are sounding a little crowded, there is no shortage of countries in the world where you can broaden your horizons and find life-enriching experiences to take back home. If planning a trip to any of these places seems a little daunting, why not opt for a popular hassle-free way to travel by booking a tour? While the following countries have already started to beckon travellers, there’s still plenty of time to get ahead of the curve.
If you’re a foodie, you needed to be in Sri Lanka yesterday. Not only has the country just been ranked as the top country for travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet, but it’s also going to be the hottest ticket for a food tour! That’s not surprising, with it’s fragrant, spicy cuisine made from fresh seafood and local produce, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Get ready to chow down against a backdrop of beautiful beaches, wildlife, vibrant cities, and don’t leave without washing it all down with some of their famous tea.
If you want a heavenly crash course in elements of Africa’s scenery, stunning wildlife, and desert plains, head to Namibia’s cities, mountains and wilderness. Located in Southwest Africa, Namibia offers visitors a chance encounter some of the most photographed dunes in the world, observe majestic beasts from the animal kingdom, experience unearthly scenes at Skeleton Coast (where ships and whales find their final resting place), and indulge in fat plump oysters. The country has one of the world’s lowest population densities, so if you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find that too.
Dubai may be the first country that springs to mind when you think of the Middle East, but the country has had its moment. Ditch Dubai’s highrises and overpriced cocktails in favour of glamping in the desert and exploring the authentic Middle Eastern culture. Oman’s cities are filled with art foundations and museums, and make sure you take a hipster #fromwhereIstand picture on the beautiful hand-loomed carpet found Muscat’s Grand Mosque and go dolphin spotting along the coast.
From the historic city of Amman and the stone Rose City of Petra to the Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, Jordan is a haven for notable sights, culture and heritage. If you want to experience the Middle East in all its traditional, rural and urban glory, Jordan will make for one of most memorable trips you ever take. There are lots of ways to discover this country; you can stay with the locals, hike along trails, go people watching in the cities or sleep under the stars, Jordan lets you choose your own breathtaking adventure.
By Georgia, we mean the country at the intersection of Europe and Asia. This former Soviet republic is home to Caucasus Mountain villages where vineyards, old churches and mountain scenery provides travellers with a veritable escape. Georgia balances its complicated history with the 21st century through buildings and art. You’ll explore a unique world that’s rich in cave towns, ancient cathedrals, the artwork of Niko Pirosmani, and dramatic contemporary buildings.
As Japan prepares for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020, not only is it going to take centre stage, it’s going to take the world by storm. Japan’s captivating cities, already densely populated, attract droves of travellers, we suggest exploring the country’s smaller towns and remote islands that are relatively tucked away even to the residents before all the world cup hype kicks off. Okinawa and the Southwest Islands will show you a lesser known Japan. You’ll find beaches with white sands, coral reefs, welcoming locals and delicious food.
Best destinations for getting off the beaten track in 2019
Some of the top trends for 2019 include eco-friendly travel, comebacks for forgotten destinations, genealogy themed travel, and culinary tourism but it seems more travellers than ever are looking for alternatives to the beaten track. Leave behind trodden routes and explore these under the radar destinations before they start filling up your Instagram feeds.
Marrakech may be a starting point for many who visit Morocco, but the city of Ouarzazate is for people that want to go further and deeper into Morocco’s history. Appropriately nicknamed the door of the desert, Ouarzazate is a gateway to the fortified village and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Ben Haddou.
The Faroe Islands, Denmark
While your fellow globetrotters quite rightly head to Iceland for the thermal waters of Blue Lagoon and northern lights, after a two-night pitstop in Reykjavik fly to the Faroe Islands. On the Faroe Islands, you may think that all there is to do is marvel at astonishing green pastures and be humbled by the scenery, but these volcanic islands are also buzzing with art and music. So while hikers and intrepid travellers are drawn to the bluffs and trails, culture lovers will find their fill here too.
Just a short plane ride from Colombia’s capital of Bogotá is the idyllic town of Palomino. On one hand, you have beaches that can rival top Carribean destinations, and on the other, the glaciers of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and between the shoreline and peaks lie seven ecosystems. Palomino is a stunning basecamp that backpackers and visitors alike will love for its wildlife, luxury hostels, and local cuisine.
The Silk Road, that ancient route from China to the Mediterranean, is one of the world’s most iconic journeys. Travellers would be forgiven for thinking that they need a lifetime to cover such an extraordinary journey, but Lonely Planet suggests that no name is as evocative of the Silk Road as Samarkand and it’s possible to discover many of its attractions in two or three days. It’s noted for being a city in modern Uzbekistan, but you’ll also find ancient traditions and history personified through embellished architecture. UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List as Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures.
Toronto may not see the foot traffic that Montréal and Vancouver do, but this melting pot of a city has a lot to offer visitors. Toronto is a collection of charming neighbourhoods, and in each one, you’ll find a microcosm packed with street culture, endless food choices, and diversity that Toronto is renowned for. The city has a fascinating collection of museums and art galleries, burgeoning theatre scene and the cocktails found in any one of the city’s secret bars are the perfect way to toast your trip!
Do you have a far-flung destination on your travel list for next year? Tell us about it now!