If you’re debating where next to jet off on an international holiday, it may be helpful to see which countries the masses are choosing. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation just released a list of the world’s most visited countries, and here’s a rundown of the top 5 picks, along with why they should be on your 2020 must-see list!
From the historic grandeur of Rome (which alone attracts almost half of Italy’s 62 million annual holidaymakers) and world famous Tuscan wine country, to the gondolas of Venice and cultural flare of Florence, Italy has no shortage of landmarks to keep tourists flooding in every year. Taking the 5th spot on the UN’s list, its position is well deserved. For those daring to go off the beaten track, Sicily has recently seen an upswing in tourist visits, featuring sunny beaches and salvaged ruins which make a great reprieve from the bustling throngs of the mainland.
If you’re tired of the usual European tourist hotspots, then China may reignite your globetrotting flame. Brimming with relics of its ancient history as a civilisation, as well as affordable accommodation and consumables, it’s small wonder that it nabs 4th position with almost 63 million annual visitors. If you’re planning a trip, be sure that you visit the renowned Great Wall, as well as the five drum towers, each representative of a Chinese virtue, in Zhaoxing Village.
Almost as large as the entire European continent, and famed for sights from the Statue of Liberty in New York to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and too many to mention between, it’s no surprise that the US ranks 3rd on the UN’s list with almost 80 million tourists visiting each year. Aside from the thriving nightlife of major cities across the country, the States also boasts a host of prospering national parks for those who seek the thrill of adventure in the wild.
Spain just misses the top spot with 82.7 million visitors annually, 10% of whom can just be found exploring the culture and architecture of the country’s capital, Barcelona. The tourist influx in 2018 left even the most resilient locals overwhelmed by the crowds! For those with a spring in their step, try learning the Flamenco in Seville, or if you’d rather escape the hustle and bustle, perhaps hike a leg of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in the northern countryside.
It seems almost inescapable that the country of love and lights walks away as the top holiday hotspot. It outsells Spain by almost 7 million, welcoming a whopping total of 89.4 million annual visitors! If you want to be part of the country’s predicted 100 million tourists next year, it’s best to plan your travels for sooner rather than later as the country prepares for hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Aside from the obligatory Eiffel Tower and Southern beach visits, also make a trip to the Mont Saint-Michel monastery. Its medieval design perches upon a solitary island and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
From European classics to modern Oriental exploration, holidaymakers seem to be reinventing international holiday conventions. While the crowds can be daunting, each country also has its fair share of undiscovered gems, and the promise of that may be reason enough to see what all the fuss is about for oneself. You can read the UN’s entire international tourism report here.
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