For a tourist destination to grow considerably, it must either be a market novelty or a destination that has suffered a sharp decline in the number of visits. We say that a destination is booming, if we perceive there has been substantial growth in the number of visitors when comparing the current number of visitors with past figures. Percentage-wise, we consider that a destination that received 10 tourists in the past and 20 in the present has grown by 100%.
Based on this calculation, it is very unlikely that consolidated destinations such as the Balearic islands or New York will be listed in this kind of ranking; however, there is always an exception that confirms the rule.
Below, you will find a list of the top-ten booming, worldwide destinations, according United Nations reports based on data from the year 2017:
- (+24.3%) Northern Mariana islands. This tropical destination, an arch-shaped archipelago made up of volcanic islands, owes its name to Mariana of Austria, Spanish Queen in the 17th centruy. In addition to its typical, heavenly, white-sand beaches, this archipelago also offers coral reefs guarded by turtles, tuna, manta rays, sharks and dolphins. In the depths of these islands’ waters one can still find the trace of World War II, thanks to scattered remains of U.S.A and Japanese planes or warships.
- (+24.6%). Israel. Israel is a destination surrounded by water. Actually, the shores of the Holy Land are bathed by three seas: the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. On top of the country’s beaches and cultural and religious tourist attractions, the south of Israel also offers ecotourism opportunities throughout the vast and blazing desert known as Negev, in Hebrew, and as Naqab, in Arabic. Beware of the Jerusalem syndrome, affecting some 100 tourists a year, whose symptoms are excessive manifestations of religious zeal, combined with episodes of public agitation and an inclination to wear white hotel-sheets or to cheer slogans in favor of moral virtue.
- (+25%) Nepal. An extremely poor country under communist oppression, enjoys a rich culture based on Hinduism and Buddhism (Siddharta Gautama was born there), and is home to the highest mountains in the world. Actually, it shares its territory with half of Mount Everest, whose climbing permit ranges from 10,000$ to 20,000$ per person. The country is a paradise for trekking and enjoying high-mountain landscapes. Do not miss the delicious dal bat, a typical dish made with white rice, vegetables and lentil soup.
- (25.4%) Niue. Doesn’t it sound familiar? Don’t worry, nor does it to 98% of the world population. This tiny insular country, located on the South Pacific and known as the “Polynesian Rock”, has 1,600 inhabitants (750 of which dwell in its capital, Alofii). It is only accessible from New Zealand and its former name, Nukututaha, means “Solitariy island”. As a matter of fact, this name is the root of its current name, Niue, made up of Niu, which means “coconut tree” and the word “e”, which means “contemplate”. This country has developed a curious strategy to lure tourists, which consists of coining legal currency using images of Pokémon, Star Wars, or characters from the Mickey Mouse world.
- (+25.7 %) Palestine. Actually, East Jerusalem would be more appropriate since access to Gaza is practically impossible. For obvious reasons, the visitor count has started from scratch in view of the chronic violence devastating this region. Believe it or not, crossing the border between Palestine and Israel is not as difficult as it may seem. It is just a matter of showing your passport, getting on a bus in Jerusalem and getting off in Ramallah. Did you know that Palestine has its own beer, called Taybeh?
- (+ 28%) Georgia. A large portion of this Black Sea country lies on the Caucasus mountains which separate Europe from Asia. This former Soviet republic gained back its independence in March 1991 after the fall of the USSR. The name of its capital, Tbilisi, derives from the word tpili which, in Georgian, means hot. This is because the city was built on top of a natural network of hot springs. Actually, these springs are the source of hot water for thermal baths located in the city center. Georgia also prides itself on some great ski resorts, woods home to lynx, leopards and bears, as well as an outstanding eco-diversity.
- (+29%) Vietnam. One of the surprises from the list. Although initial figures are relatively low, they are not that bad after all: the growth of tourism in Vietnam is outstanding. This country, which served as stage for the first televised, armed conflict in history (what a trail of movies it has left…), nowadays is one of the world’s leading rice exporters. Among its tourism icons are the Non La cone-shaped hat, Hanoi’s old town, the multi-ethnic region of Sapa, and Vietnamese Buddhism, which is a peculiar and fascinating combination of several branches of Buddhism.
- (+31%) San Marino. Close to Rimini, in Italy, is an independent midieval town, hanging from a rock, and stricken by merciless urban development. Although this town receives a lot of visits, a few buses are enough to throw this destination into the list of record rankings.
- (+46.7%) Togo. On the shores of the gulf of Benin, in western Africa, and bathed by deep-blue waters, lies this small country. It offers an interesting topographic menu that includes a coast skirted by coconut trees – resembling the south Pacific – lush mountains, rolling hills, and picturesque valleys and wide plains that meet winding rivers and quiet lagoons. To the north, in the savanna, wild animals abound. Togo lived under German rule for thirty years, starting in 1884. Public health coverage is low, vaccination campaigns practically non-existent and, therefore, child mortality rates quite high.
- (+55%) Egypt. The country of the Nile valley is an example of exceptional recovery. In 2016, the cradle of the Pharaonic civilization was hit by an unprecedented political and social crisis that led it to the verge of tourism bankruptcy. Attaining back the initial levels of tourism affluence was just a matter of time. A wide hotel offer, many airports, knowhow and, obviously, a regained feeling of safety inviting tourists to go back to this destination have done the rest. Cairo, Nubia, the Aswan dam, Luxor: the marvels of this outstanding country is unparalleled throughout the world. As we understand it, this is probably the only case of real growth, strictly speaking. In 2016, this country was hit by an unprecedented crisis that practically left it without a single tourist. Growing required what Egypt had: a wide hotel offer, many airports, knowhow and, obviously, a regained feeling of safety inviting tourists to go back to this destination. In 2018, things have been better.