Special Report

Most Visited Countries in the World

Source: Bart Slingerland (Rex) / Wikimedia Commons

15. Russia
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 24,571,000
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: -72,200
> Population, 2017: 144,495,044
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP: 3.9%
> GDP per capita: $24,766

Russian tourism has continued to rise following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Top foreign visitors come from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China. Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine in 2014 contributed to a temporary drop in its annual average change in tourists, but tourism is currently booming, with significant increases from Southeast Asia and Latin America. U.S. visitors have also increased to record numbers in recent years, despite politics between the two countries. The saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity” rings true, as Russia’s constant place in American headlines has piqued interest in travel to the country, according to tourism experts.

Source: Giorgos Kritsotakis / Getty Images

14. Greece
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 24,799,000
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 1,674,400
> Population, 2017: 10,760,421
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP: 30.1%
> GDP per capita: $24,574

Despite three economic bailouts since 2010, Greece’s tourism has suffered little and continues to show strong growth. It’s a significant contributor to the country’s economy, at 30% of the GDP. Tourism revenues rose by nearly $2.3 billion in 2018 — the fourth consecutive year of growth —according to the country’s tourism minister. Chinese visitors to Greece, who are fueling a worldwide global boom in travel, are estimated to increase in 2019. They seek it out for for weddings, honeymoons, and for luxury and culture tourism, according to the Greek National Tourism Organization.

Source: WiNG / Wikimedia Commons

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

The Individual Visit Scheme, enacted in 2003, eased travel from Mainland China to Hong Kong and fellow special administrative district (SAR) Macao. Previously, Mainland residents could only visit either SAR on business visas or as part of a tour. Today, Mainland China makes up the largest number of tourist arrivals, followed by Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the U.S. Recent tense relations between the Mainland and Hong Kong resulted in a dip in visitor numbers, but this trend appears to have faded.

Source: TomasSereda / Getty Images

12. Malaysia
> Number of arrivals, 2016: 26,757,000
> Annual average change in tourists arrivals, 2011-2016: 408,600
> Population, 2017: 31,624,264
> Tourism revenue, % of GDP: 9.0%
> GDP per capita: $26,808

In 1999 Malaysia launched the “Malaysia Truly Asia” campaign to promote tourism worldwide. It successfully helped increase tourist arrivals from 10.2 million in 2000 to 25.9 million in 2017. Tourism has also significantly contributed to the country’s economic growth, climbing to a share of 14.9% in 2017, from 10.4% in 2005. Even though the number of tourists dropped by 3% in 2017 from the previous year, Malaysia was the second most-visited Southeast Asian country after Thailand, according to the ministry of tourism. The East Asian tourism market increased by 6.3%, while other markets saw a decline. Top tourist countries for Malaysia are Singapore, Indonesia, China, and Thailand.

Source: bluejayphoto / Getty Images

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

Austria has continued to experience a booming tourism industry in recent years due to favorable economic conditions, new marketing campaigns and an increase in travelers from Southeast Asia. The majority of tourists come from from Germany and the Netherlands. Visitors from Southeast Asia increased by 35 % in 2017. Most vacationers prefer Tyrol, but Vienna is still very popular. Tyrol and Salzburg make up more than half of all overnight stays in 2017.

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