The 20 Fastest-growing Travel Destinations in the World
Every year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization tracks travel trends to predict the newest up-and-coming destinations.
The organization tracks international visitators and presents information about which countries are spiking interest. And over the past year, some unlikely countries have emerged as frontrunners.
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Despite long-standing conflict in the Middle East, more visitors are venturing to countries like Palestine, Egypt and Tunisia. South American destinations, like Uruguay and Chile, have also seen impressive growth over the past year.
If you’re looking to travel to the coolest destinations before everybody else, consider this list your guide.
1. Palestinian Territories
Over the past year, international tourist visits to Palestine increased almost 58 percent. The West Bank sees the most visitors around Christmas when Bethlehem hosts a midnight mass.
3. Northern Mariana Islands
This U.S. territory saw 37-percent tourist growth over the past year. The tropical archipelago, northeast of Guam, is known for its casinos and beaches lined with palm trees.
Tunisia is recovering from its 2015 terrorist attack fairly quickly. The country had a 33-percent increase in tourists last year. Tourists are heading back to the country for its resorts, beaches and preserved ancient history.
Some people are calling Uruguay South America’s latest hot spot. Over the past year, 3 million people visited the country — a 30-percent increase from the previous year, according to UNWTO. Be sure to visit the capital of Montevideo and attempt some celebrity spotting on the beaches of Punta del Este.
An estimated 1.5 million people visited Nicaragua in 2016, a 28-percent increase year-over-year. It’s an affordable Central American destination that’s less crowded than its neighbor, Costa Rica.
Tourism to Mongolia increased 28 percent last year. Tourists are drawn to Mongolia’s secluded resorts and the surprise overnight growth of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
Israel received 2.9 million visitors last year, a 25-percent increase over the previous year. Despite the fact that the country is only the size of New Jersey, it packs a historical punch. Tourists flock to the Dead Sea, the Western Wall and the nightlife of Tel Aviv.
Montenegro could be giving its popular neighbor, Croatia, a run for its money. Over the past year, the Balkan country saw a 20-percent rise in tourism.
Another quickly-growing South American country is Chile, which also received 20 percent more tourists over the past year. Its diverse landscapes and environment make it a great destination for the outdoorsy types.
This Middle Eastern country is cementing itself as bona fide luxury destination. UNWTO says that over the past year, it’s seen a 19 percent increase in tourism. Oman has only been open to tourists since the 1980s, so it’s still relatively unspoilt. Although, go quick: A new resort seems to open there every day.
Throughout its long history (over 3,000 years), Armenia has been plagued with conflict. However now, in more stable times, the country had an 18 percent growth in tourism over the past year. Because it was the world’s first Christian country, many of the most popular tourist attractions are monasteries that date back thousands of years.
Finland is often overlooked in favor of other, more popular Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark. However in the past year, it’s seen a 17 percent boost in tourism. Go to experience a traditional sauna, dine on reindeer meat and gaze up at the northern lights in Finnish Lapland.
Ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games, Japan is busy preparing for tourists. This past year, 17 percent more people visited the country. And tourists are venturing far outside of Tokyo; Osaka and Kyoto both saw increased tourism in the past year, too.