Special Report

Fastest-Growing Vacation Spots Around the World

Source: Jui-Chi Chan / Getty Images

25. Macao SAR, China
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 555,720
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 15,703,600
> Population, 2017: 622,567
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 88.7%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $104,862

Macao, a special administrative district (SAR) located to the southeast of mainland China and across from Hong Kong, has shown steady tourism growth for decades. The former Portuguese territory’s total visitor arrivals reached 32.6 million in 2017, up 5.4% from the year before. Known for its blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, as well as gambling, Macao’s international tourist arrivals jumped 6.2% to a new record 3.1 million. Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were still the main source of visitors, while tourism from its top overseas market, South Korea, jumped 32%. Macao is often referred to as “the Las Vegas of Asia,” which may help explain why the tourism revenue is such a huge part of GDP. Most visitors go there to gamble.

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24. Bahrain
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 685,200
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 10,158,000
> Population, 2017: 1,492,584
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: N/A
> GDP per capita, 2017: $43,291

This island nation in the Persian Gulf is expecting an even greater tourism boom in coming years, with the industry estimated to reach $1 billion by 2020.Much of this growth is predicted to come from Saudi Arabia. The country accounts for the majority of Bahrain’s tourists as they are connected via a causeway. There are plans to build a second causeway, and Bahrain is expecting the recent lifting of Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers will positively impact its tourism as well.

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23. Georgia
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 707,800
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 6,361,000
> Population, 2017: 3,717,100
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 38.0%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $9,745

Georgia’s international tourism revenue reached $2.7 billion in 2017, which was $594 million more than in 2016. The former Soviet republic continues to saw an increase of 17.7% in tourists from January to August 2018. The majority of foreign travelers were from Russia and Azerbaijan, with the greatest increases seen from South Korea and China. One of the country’s attractions is its winemaking. One of the oldest wine regions in the world, Georgia is known for its traditional method of using clay vessels called kvevris for fermenting, storing and aging wine underground.

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22. Canada
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 762,000
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 19,824,000
> Population, 2017: 36,708,083
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 3.8%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $44,018

Canada still hasn’t regained its peak tourism levels of the late 1990s. The 9/11 attacks and the resulting increased border security, the severe acute respiratory syndrome

(SARS) outbreak in 2002, the 2008 global recession, and an unfavorable exchange rate brought visitor tourism levels to new lows, according to Statistics Canada. But a better economy and increased overseas air travel have lifted those numbers recently, particularly through the increase in Chinese tourists, who have now become the second-largest source of overseas travelers, and the easing of visa requirement for Mexican tourists.

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21. Indonesia
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 773,800
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 11,519,000
> Population, 2017: 263,991,379
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 7.5%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $11,189

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has made it his goal to attract 20 million international visitors to Indonesia by 2020. In 2014 it welcomed 9.3 million foreign tourists, with 10.4 million people the following year, and 12 million in 2016. This jump was helped by increasing the number of countries allowed to visit Indonesia without a visa from 15 to 169. But Indonesia still faces challenges in reaching that 20 million visitor goal, including the continuing threat of terrorist attacks and their resulting travel advisories.

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