Putting tourist info from places like the WorldBank and country data into spreadsheets, we’re visually displaying four ways of measuring how touristy a country is:
- # of Tourists (per year)
- Ratio of Tourists to Residents
- Ratio of Tourists to Land
- (Growth Rate) Change in # of Tourists in 6 Years
Combining this is the best way to empirically measure the most and least touristy countries.
First I’ll show the Infographic, which is mostly world maps of each category displaying how touristy each country is.
Then I’ll give a post below, with top 10-20 lists for each data set.
Infographic / Maps
Most and Least Number of Tourists Per Year
Obviously, this is the most common way of measuring number of tourists… by the number of tourists.
France has the most with 82 million international tourists per year, and Tuvalu (and North Korea) the least number of tourists per year, with only 3,000.
Most Number of Tourists Per Year:
Least Number of Tourists Per Year:
Highest and Lowest Ratio of Tourists to Residents
If you were to randomly meet a thousand people in the country, how likely would it be that they are a tourist or a local?
In Andorra, there are 36 times more tourists than residents (in a year)!
On the other hand, there are 8,496 more residents than tourists in North Korea (in a year). Although, I’d prefer being neither a tourists nor a resident in North Korea, the data still says it’s the least touristy country by this metric.
In fact, this is one of my favorite ways of measuring how touristy a country is. Of all the millions of people that visit India in a year, there are 91 times more residents currently there, than there are tourists visiting in an entire year.
One exception: because I don’t have tourist data on the Vatican, it’s not included. But I’m pretty sure that it would be top of the list with some insane ratio (probably for tourist per square mile as well), but it’s not included.
(Note that I flip the ratios on these two charts).
Mosts Tourists Per Resident:
|Macao SAR, China||25|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||12|
|Northern Mariana Islands||9|
(Least touristy ratio) Most Residents Per Tourists:
|Congo, Dem. Rep.||1004|
Since many of these countries have no tourists due to civil war, I’ll include some honorable mentions:
- Ethiopia – 120
- Burundi – 102
- India – 91
- Madagascar – 87
- Papua New Guinea – 58
- Tanzania – 46
- Kenya – 39
- Nepal – 38
- Moldova – 32
- Brazil – 31
Most and Least Tourists per Square Mile in the Country
Simply put, if you walked across an entire country, how often would you spot another tourist?
Since Macau gets nearly 16 million tourists a year, yet only has 12 square miles of land… That’s nearly 1.3 million tourists (per year) per square foot.
Even if (hypothetically), each tourist only stayed 1 night (so 43,000 tourists a night), you can assume that there are 3,585 other tourists in the same square mile as you… And double if you assume each tourist stays two nights (triple for an average of three nights, and so on…).
On the other hand, if you walked across Turkmenistan, you’d need to cover 23 square miles to find another tourist! And that’s assuming they stay all year!
If you assumed each tourist stayed an entire week (153 tourists a week), you’d need to walk 1,225 square miles to find another tourist!
Truthfully, all 153 are likely near Ashgabat International Airport… Which means you could have the other 188,500 mi² to yourself.
Either way, here are the worst and best places to get some square miles to yourself:
Tourists (per year) per Square Mile:
|Macao SAR, China||1,297,851|
|Hong Kong SAR, China||24,956|
Square Miles per Tourist (per year)
|Congo, Dem. Rep.||11.18|
And because no one is walking across North Korea, Congo, or even Greenland… Here are a few more honorable mentions:
- Mali – 2.77
- Mongolia – 1.49
- Papua New Guinea – 1.28
- Angola 1.21
- Madagascar 0.77
- Brazil 0.50
- Ethiopia 0.49
- Solomon Islands 0.49
- Bolivia 0.44
- Australia 0.36
Fastest Growing (and Declining) Tourism (change from 2010 to 2016)
This is the most interesting data to me, because it possibly reflects where I should be going. These are places with drastic changes, which means things could be very different years from now – cultures change, prices change, and sometimes becomes less personal.
Recently places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka have opened up for tourism, and there are still very few tourists going there. But they are starting to!
Also, I found this list so interesting, I decided to include the top 20 for fastest growing number of tourists, below.
Fastest Growing Tourism:
|Sao Tome and Principe||262.50%|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||112.88%|
(Basically all of South East Asia is on the list).
Most Declined Tourism:
|Egypt, Arab Rep.||-62.58%|
|Micronesia, Fed. Sts.||-33.33%|
Conclusion (The Most Common Most and Least Touristy Countries)
(Yes, I typed the title correctly).
Everything thus far has been not only objective, but as accurate as the WorldBank.
Now… I’m going to do something completely arbitrary. Give each country a rank in the three categories above – # of Tourists; Tourists per mi2; and Tourists per resident (everything except growth). Then add up the ranks to come up with the countries that are most commonly at the top (or bottom of the lists).
Again, one exception is that the Vatican was not included, and probably would top both tourists per resident, and per square mile.
The Least Overall Touristy Countries:
- North Korea
- Congo, Dem. Rep.
- Central African Republic
- Sierra Leone
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- Burkina Faso
Honorable mentions: Ethiopia, Moldova, Kiribati, Kosovo, Mongolia, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, and Nepal.
The Most Overall Touristy Countries:
- Macao SAR, China
- Hong Kong SAR, China
- United Arab Emirates
Note that the WorldBank didn’t give info for some places like the Vatican.
Also, this method is biased against anywhere in Europe and any city-state, because it has a high density, in terms of area. So I was surprised to see Bulgaria on the list.
Especially city-states. Hong Kong isn’t being compared to Paris, it’s being compared to the entire country of France, including the countryside.
None the less, if you think about the sheer number of tourists and how many there are per square mile, and per resident… It could roughly explain how much a culture is effected by tourism.
Sources for tourism info:
Majority came from data.worldbank.org.
WorldBank didn’t have 2016 info on 25 smaller countries, where I had to use 2010 info (therefore they didn’t show up on the changed list).
I could not find info for the following countries: Equatorial Guinea, Faroe Islands, Liberia, Somalia, South Sudan, Cook Islands, Taiwan, and the Vatican City. (If you find a reliable source for yearly # of tourists for Faroe Islands, please let me know).