Humans have been on the move for thousands of years – and in no time in history has it been easier to travel than today. Tourism is forming an increasing part of the global economy, even making up 9% of GDP and employing 1/11 people globally. Some countries are economic powerhouses bringing in millions of tourists to do business locally while others are pristine gems which draw in adventure-seekers and nature-lovers. Whether it be a country filled with thermal lakes or a tiny city-state with one of the world’s top economies, here we’ve dug up the most visited countries in the world according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 2015 report. All numbers are reported arrivals for the year 2014. Going from only 25 million international tourists in 1950 to 1,133 million in 2014, people are traveling more than ever and for reasons from business to marathon-tourism to adventure-tourism to more. Check out which global hot spots have made it onto our list of the 25 Most Visited Countries in the World.
Croatia - 11.6 million
Starting off our list of the world’s most touristed countries is Croatia, a Mediterranean country which welcomed 11.6 million visitors in 2014. Most of these tourists came to enjoy Croatia’s long Mediterranean coastline dotted with inlets and bays throughout. Due to this natural beauty, the service sector is Croatia’s largest economic driver, especially during the summer when many Europeans make the short trip to the (mostly) still-cheaper-than-Italy country.
Singapore - 11.9 million
Ranked by Forbes as Asia’s most influential city, Singapore is a city-state group of islands which is one of Asia’s most economically prosperous and important zones. Formerly owned by the East India Company then by the U.K., Singapore has strong ties with its former colonial power. Beyond this, it has made a tremendous name for itself, including as the “Easiest Place to Do Business” according to the World Bank and BERI’s “City with the Best Investment Potential”. Most of Singapore’s tourists come for business purposes.
Hungary - 12.1 million
World War I took a heavy toll on Hungary, with the country losing 71% of its land area and 58% of its population. Despite its time under the Eastern Bloc, Hungary has a highly successful and growing economy. Cheap prices and beautiful natural features such as the world’s second largest thermal lake and large grasslands have made Hungary an increasingly common Eurotrip destination. With over 12 million visitors, Hungary is the 23rd most visited country in the world.
Ukraine - 12.7 million
The largest country in Europe, Ukraine has long been a global breadbasket, providing a significant amount of global grains due to its fertile territory. Coming in after #9 on our list, Ukraine commands Europe’s second-largest military, especially called on in the past two years since the outbreak of civil war in 2013 and the deposition of former President Viktor Yanukovych. Despite the war (and in-part because of it), Ukraine was the 22nd most visited country in the world in 2014.
Japan - 13.4 million
Japan can claim plenty of “bests”, including the world’s largest metropolitan area (Tokyo) with more than 35 million inhabitants. Boasting the highest life expectancy in the world, Japan is an economic powerhouse drawing in hoards of working people to do business with the technologically advanced island nation as well as leisure tourists to visits its breathtaking scenery including the famous cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji (and maybe eat a bit of sushi and drink some sake).