Special Report

Fastest-Growing Vacation Spots Around the World

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15. Hong Kong SAR, China
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 847,400
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 26,553,000
> Population, 2017: 7,391,700
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 6.3%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $56,055

Today, Mainland China makes up the largest number of tourist arrivals to Hong Kong, followed by Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. For a while, tense relations between the Mainland and Hong Kong caused these numbers to dip, but more recent trends show this downturn is over. Along with an increase in tourism, Mainland China is also helping to drive Hong Kong’s retail sales in the last three years.

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14. Netherlands
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 905,600
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 15,828,000
> Population, 2017: 17,132,854
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 2.9%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $48,473

The Netherlands has continued to see a steady growth of tourists in recent years, which has been particularly fueled by visitors from other European countries. Visits from Germans, who top the list, rose 7% to 4.5 million in 2017, while the number of British and Belgian tourists rose 8% to around 2 million. That same year, helped by a low euro, U.S. visitors rose by 15% to 1.2 million. Tourism growth was stronger in the Netherlands than in most other European countries at 5.5%, according to a report by Statistics Netherlands and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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13. Austria
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 1,021,800
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 28,121,000
> Population, 2017: 8,809,212
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 9.4%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $45,437

The majority of tourists that visit Austria may be from Germany, but tourists from Southeast Asia are contributing to recent growth in the industry, particularly from India. A total of 147,300 Indian visitors were recorded in 2016 — a 25% increase over 2015. India has been identified as the highest growing market for Austria, according to the nation’s tourism board. This jump is attributed to Austria welcoming Bollywood to its country as a filming location. Austria’s tourism board is also trying to lure Indian families and focusing on leisure sports activities and travel in the summer.

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12. Italy
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 1,250,600
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 52,372,000
> Population, 2017: 60,551,416
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 7.3%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $35,220

Like some other popular hotspots, Italy is both benefiting and hurting from the crowds. Tourists are overcrowding Venice, Capri is suffering from an influx of ferries, and even Florence and Rome are trying to regulate the increase in visitors. Still, Italy has been criticized for its slower rate of tourism growth when compared to other European nations. A report from the European Travel Commission suggests that investments, such as improving the network of air connections, could help change this.

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11. United Kingdom
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 1,301,600
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 35,814,000
> Population, 2017: 66,022,273
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP, 2016: 7.4%
> GDP per capita, 2017: $39,753

Fears over Brexit’s impact on tourism have been overridden by a drop in the pound against the euro and the dollar. The exchange rate is helping to fuel record numbers of tourists. In terms of jobs, since 2010 tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the U.K., and is estimated to be worth over $335 billion by 2025, according to Visit Britain. This growth is also predicted to support almost 3.8 million jobs, or 11% of the employment market.