Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Ten countries that deserve more tourists

There are more than one billion tourists in the world, but some destinations don't get quite as many visitors as you would expect. 

The beaches may be beautiful and the coastline inviting, but you can understand why Tuvalu doesn't get much through-traffic. It's tiny for a start; one of the smallest nations in the world, and not much bigger than Vatican City. It's also about as far from the beaten track as possible—right out in the middle of the South Pacific.

So the 1,200 international arrivals recorded there in 2011—according to the World Bank—had to make quite an effort. It had the least number of recorded visitors for all countries where data was available (and no, there were no figures for North Korea). Incidentally, if you are curious about Tuvalu, the official tourism website is surprisingly enticing.

Low tourism to other nations is less easy to explain. Here we round up some of the places where visitor numbers are surprisingly low.

India - The world's most populous democracy ought to be a huge hitter when it comes to tourism. Right in the centre of Asia, with strong historical links to Britain, it has some amazing attractions, from the Taj Mahal to tigers. But with less than seven million foreign arrivals last year, it is hardly setting the world alight with its visitor numbers. To put that into context, that's less than a third of Thailand's 22.4m during the same year. 

The Philippines - A glorious archipelago with miles and miles of pristine beaches, the Philippines certainly look enticing. On an unscientific level, news that the Philippines featured in Telegraph's 20 places to visit in 2014 was greeted enthusiastically and retweeted widely on social networks. Yet the number of visitors was only just above four million in 2012. It's a shortfall that's recognised within the country's own borders, with tourism officials aiming for more than 10m visitors in 2016. 

Bhutan - This landlocked country in South Asia is a beautiful, mountainous nation. With a strongly Buddhist culture, wonderful treks, remote forests and Himalayan kingdoms, there is a wealth of visitor attractions—yet there were only around 44,000 to appreciate them in 2012. 

Brazil - It may be the most visited country in South America, but that continent as a whole remains relatively unexplored. For a country with such a reputation for its beaches, natural assets and football culture, Brazil is arguably still not punching its full weight. It's comfortably the biggest economy in the region, and its attractions vary from the beaches of Salvador, Rio's Carnival to the remote flora and fauna of the Amazon. 

Greece - For culture and history, few countries can compare with Greece. Often referred to as the birthplace of democracy, with ancient ruins dotting the landscape, it also has glorious beaches, and some wonderful islands—often at good value. 

Japan - For a country that has given so much to the world culturally—from temples to the madness of Tokyo—Japan has a relative dearth of visitors (about 8.4m, only about a million more than for Taiwan).

New Zealand - With The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit offering a giant marketing boost over the last few years, the number of tourists to this beautiful country is on the increase. But at just over 2.5m international arrivals at the last full count, it is still a long way behind Australia, its neighbour across the Tasman—it has only slightly more than a third of the visitors. 

Norway - For a country whose fjords and wooden clapboard houses are almost instantly recognisable, Norway is significantly behind its neighbour Sweden for international arrivals, which has more than double the number of visitors, at around 10m. In some respects, however, business is booming: more Britons went on a cruise to Norway in 2012 than to the Caribbean.

 Zimbabwe - With vast landscapes, natural wonders, and mesmerising wildlife, Zimbabwe should be a rival to South Africa. Once upon a time it was, but visitor numbers have declined in recent years—it now registers around 1.8m visitors (compared to South Africa's 9.2m), and many more head to the mighty Victoria Falls from the Zambian side nowadays. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina - At the intersection of two great empires—the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman—this region has huge historic appeal, perhaps most notably in its capital city, Sarajevo. With its rivers and mountains, it is also being touted as a future adventure capital of Eastern Europe. Yet, of all the countries belonging to the former Yugoslavia, only Croatia has been a true success with its tourist industry (10.4m in 2012), with only 439,000 going to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the same year. 

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