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International tourism

International tourism: the most popular countries

In 2019, 2.28 bn international tourists traveled to other countries worldwide. The U.S. also enjoyed a handsome 166.01 m foreign visitors, resulting in around $233.46 bn in revenue and 1st place in the global rankings.

The analysis presented here is based on 2019 data from the World Tourism Organization and lists the most popular 91 countries. Both the number of tourists and the revenue apply to international travel, i.e. they do not include domestic travelers. A tourist in this context is any guest who spent at least one night in the country.

Tourism

The most popular travel countries

Traveling by planeIt is striking that tourism is very limited in large parts of Africa and even in South America, which is so culturally interesting. On the other hand, many European countries are visited quite often by foreigners, which is mainly due to their geographical proximity to other countries. The lower the travel costs, the more attractive the destinations become, especially for surrounding industrialized nations.

A closer look at the figures also reveals that the USA (ranked 1st), in view of its size, was only able to attract comparatively moderate numbers of tourists, but had considerable revenues. An amount of $1,406 was recorded here per traveler. This is a profit that was otherwise higher only in 20 countries. Australia came in at even $5,066 per guest.

Rank CountryTourists
(in million)
Receipts
(in billion $)
Receipts
per tourist
Percentage
of GDP
1United States166.0233.46 $1,406 $1.1 %
2China162.540.39 $248 $0.3 %
3Spain126.281.25 $644 $6.3 %
4Mexico97.425.85 $265 $2.4 %
5Italy95.451.91 $544 $2.8 %
6Poland88.515.71 $178 $2.6 %
7Hungary61.410.20 $166 $6.6 %
8Croatia60.011.99 $200 $21.4 %
9Hong Kong55.932.70 $585 $9.4 %
10Turkey51.742.35 $818 $5.9 %
11United Kingdom40.948.52 $1,187 $1.8 %
12Thailand39.965.08 $1,630 $13.0 %
13Germany39.658.20 $1,471 $1.5 %
14Macao39.439.71 $1,008 $72.0 %
15Greece34.023.00 $676 $12.1 %
16Denmark32.99.10 $276 $2.6 %
17Canada32.421.98 $678 $1.3 %
18Austria31.925.29 $793 $5.9 %
19Japan31.949.21 $1,543 $1.0 %
20Malaysia26.122.20 $851 $6.6 %
21Russia24.417.67 $724 $1.2 %
22United Arab Emirates21.638.41 $1,782 $9.1 %
23Saudi Arabia20.319.85 $978 $2.8 %
24Netherlands20.125.85 $1,284 $2.8 %
25Singapore19.120.42 $1,068 $6.0 %
26Vietnam18.011.83 $657 $4.4 %
27India17.931.66 $1,767 $1.2 %
28South Korea17.526.22 $1,498 $1.6 %
29Portugal17.224.74 $1,440 $10.7 %
30Indonesia16.118.40 $1,143 $1.7 %
31South Africa14.89.06 $613 $3.0 %
32Ukraine13.72.59 $189 $1.7 %
33Morocco13.110.01 $764 $8.9 %
34Egypt13.014.26 $1,094 $3.9 %
35Romania12.84.24 $331 $1.7 %
36Bulgaria12.64.83 $384 $7.0 %
37Belarus11.81.29 $109 $2.1 %
38Switzerland11.821.26 $1,799 $2.8 %
39Bahrain11.13.86 $349 $10.0 %
40Ireland11.014.81 $1,352 $3.5 %
41Australia9.547.95 $5,066 $3.6 %
42Tunisia9.42.68 $285 $6.8 %
43Belgium9.310.56 $1,130 $2.0 %
44Kuwait8.61.18 $137 $0.9 %
45Kazakhstan8.52.92 $343 $1.7 %
46Kyrgyzstan8.50.71 $83 $9.2 %
47Latvia8.31.06 $127 $3.2 %
48Philippines8.311.48 $1,390 $3.2 %
49Georgia7.73.55 $460 $22.3 %
50Sweden7.614.93 $1,960 $2.8 %
51Dominican Republic7.67.56 $1,001 $9.6 %
52Argentina7.45.65 $764 $1.5 %
53Bahamas7.33.61 $497 $32.1 %
54Uzbekistan6.71.68 $249 $2.9 %
55Cambodia6.65.31 $804 $21.0 %
56Albania6.42.46 $384 $16.6 %
57Brazil6.46.13 $964 $0.4 %
58Lithuania6.21.42 $231 $2.5 %
59Estonia6.12.32 $379 $7.5 %
60Norway5.96.93 $1,179 $1.9 %
61Chile5.43.33 $614 $1.3 %
62Jordan5.46.86 $1,280 $15.7 %
63Peru5.34.78 $907 $2.4 %
64Puerto Rico4.93.61 $733 $3.5 %
65Israel4.98.44 $1,720 $2.1 %
66Laos4.80.97 $203 $5.1 %
67Slovenia4.73.24 $689 $6.1 %
68Colombia4.56.79 $1,498 $2.5 %
69Paraguay4.40.41 $94 $1.2 %
70Burma4.42.50 $573 $3.3 %
71Cuba4.32.65 $619 $2.6 %
72Jamaica4.23.10 $732 $22.4 %
73Cyprus4.13.25 $788 $13.6 %
74New Zealand3.910.96 $2,819 $5.2 %
75Malta3.51.85 $524 $12.6 %
76Oman3.53.19 $911 $4.2 %
77Uruguay3.52.10 $604 $3.9 %
78Costa Rica3.44.10 $1,219 $6.7 %
79Finland3.35.94 $1,807 $2.2 %
80Azerbaijan3.22.00 $632 $4.7 %
81El Salvador2.61.66 $631 $6.8 %
82Guatemala2.61.23 $479 $1.6 %
83Montenegro2.51.28 $508 $26.7 %
84Qatar2.115.65 $7,324 $10.7 %
85Ecuador2.12.29 $1,085 $2.3 %
86Lebanon1.98.72 $4,503 $26.1 %
87Luxembourg1.06.26 $6,010 $8.5 %
88Ethiopia0.83.55 $4,369 $3.3 %
89Bermuda0.80.60 $747 $8.0 %
90Moldova0.20.53 $3,057 $4.5 %
91Marshall Islands0.00.02 $3,295 $8.4 %

The United States are the travel world champion

International tourismWith a staggering 157,873,000 trips abroad in 2018, the United States were in first place. Each vacationer spent an average of $1,155. China follows in second place with an equally impressive 154,632,000 stays abroad and spending of $1,794 per capita. Considering that China and the U.S. have a considerably larger population, some European countries like Germany are very well in the running. Incidentally, similar to Europeans, most Americans stay in their own continent during their vacation. The top destinations are within the vast and both scenically and climatically varied USA. Only then come destinations in Mexico and Canada.

Internationally, the proportion of Asian guests has been increasing noticeably for several years. Above all, Chinese, South Koreans and Taiwanese can be seen in more and more countries, whereby traditionally significantly more countries are visited during a vacation than is usual for Germans. Since in the vast majority of cases the vacation is not longer, the time spent at individual vacation spots is shortened. At the same time, frequent changes of location also increase the average cost per person.

Booming tourism

Development of global tourism

Between 1995 and 2019, international tourism developed almost steadily upwards. In these 24 years alone, the number of visitors increased by 122.5 percent. Only at the time of the economic crisis in 2008 and the Covid19 pandemic in 2020 were there notable drops. The graph shows the worldwide development of visitor numbers in millions of tourists.

A look at the costs

By their very nature, the revenues and expenditures per tourist can only reflect what is statistically ascertainable. If a vacationer travels across Europe in a motor home and always pays cash in Euros, these expenses can hardly be measured. Such a traveler is not registered anywhere and the expenses can also only be attributed to a country of origin if credit card payments or cash withdrawals permit.

Travel expenses also include transfer prices, such as for flights. However, this only applies to flights whose airlines are also based in the destination country. Countries with many of their own airlines and good international connections therefore generate higher revenues than smaller countries. The fact that Bulgaria, for example, only earns $384 per traveler is also due to the fact that the country, with only one airline of its own and relatively small, does not generate significant passenger numbers. If a foreigner lands in Sofia with any non-Bulgarian airline, the airfare does not count as tourist income. If instead a traveler lands with Air France in France, Thai Air in Thailand or American Airlines in the USA, the air ticket counts. Additionally in many European countries, revenues are lower simply because travel is often by car or train.

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