Special Report

Destinations Where Tourists Outnumber Locals

Josie Green

Source: urf / Getty Images

23. Portugal
> International tourists: 2.06 per resident
> International tourist arrivals: 21.2 million
> Population 10.3 million

With its temperate weather (Lisbon is the sunniest capital in Europe), and reasonable prices (it’s been named the second most affordable European travel destination after Bulgaria), Portugal is a popular place to vacation. Tourists can drink world class wines, hike on volcanic islands, swim at miles of beaches, and explore medieval cities and castles, all within a country the size of Maine. Some popular attractions are the Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto, which inspired JK Rowling’s Hogwarts library, and the Capela dos Ossos in Evora, a 16th-century chapel decorated with human bones.

Source: ATGImages / Getty Images

22. St. Kitts and Nevis
> International tourists: 2.07 per resident
> International tourist arrivals: 114,000
> Population 55,000

St. Kitts and Nevis is an island nation of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The economy, formerly dependent on sugarcane, now relies heavily on tourism. St. Kitts is the larger, livelier island of the pair, with more restaurants, resorts, and nightlife, while Nevis features a pristine natural setting and glaring absence of streetlights, movie theatres, or fast food restaurants. The islands feature a large military fortress called Brimstone Hill that is now a national park, hiking trails through cloud rainforests, multiple iconic beaches and scuba diving areas, and a crater lake inside Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on St. Kitts.

Source: Rainbow79 / Getty Images

21. Ireland
> International tourists: 2.15 per resident
> International tourist arrivals: 10.4 million
> Population 4.8 million

Between 1845 and 1860, over half the population of Ireland emigrated to avoid starvation. Now, with 70 million people all over the world claiming Irish ancestry, the Emerald Isle is seeing a rise in genealogy tourism. The Irish government has encouraged this, publishing guides to help tourists research their ancestry. For those who travel to Ireland simply to take in the scenery, there are castles, pubs, and seaside cliffs to explore. Over 40% of visitors who come for the first time are from the neighboring Great Britain.

Source: Wildroze / Getty Images

20. Saint Lucia
> International tourists: 2.19 per resident
> International tourist arrivals: 386,000
> Population 176,000

Another popular Caribbean destination, St. Lucia boasts pristine golden sand beaches, a photogenic pair of steep mountains on the southwest shore (the Pitons), a coral reef, rainforest (77% of the island is forested), and a famous “drive-in volcano.” If the natural beauty isn’t enough, there’s also a chocolate plantation, a jazz and arts festival, and dozens of beach-side resorts and hotels nestled into the cliffs and hills along the coast.

Source: oriredmouse / Getty Images

19. Barbados
> International tourists: 2.32 per resident
> International tourist arrivals: 664,000
> Population 286,000

A British colony until 1966, Barbados is full of English relics and architecture — from the churches to statues to St. Ann’s Fort, an 18th-century military base. Residents even drive on the left side of the road. Aside from the natural beauty — warm water beaches, coral reefs, and botanical gardens — the island is famous for its rum, West Indian cuisine, nightlife, and shopping. It is also the birthplace of pop singer and icon Rihanna, who has been a cultural ambassador of the island since 2008.