People have always travelled—dating back to our days as nomads, following migrating herds. People have always felt the urge to leave their home and venture out for new destinations. The itch to explore is the reason we are now connected to every corner of the earth. The question is, do we keep going back to the same places, or do our most popular destinations change?
The answer, of course, is a little of both. France will always be flush with tourists. But the tourism industry is both fickle and competitive. And countries have taken note—tourism is not just a great opportunity to showcase natural landmarks and expose travelers to a different way of life, it’s a great (and often important) economic opportunity.
Over the past 20 years, the number of global inbound tourists has more than doubled. As part of that broad growth, many Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries are growing more rapidly than in previous years. Generally, this could be due to lifted restrictions, more airplane accessibility, or a broader view of global citizenship. Countries beyond destination stalwarts like France, the UK, and the US, are eager to get a slice of the tourism pie by highlighting their natural attractions and catering to tourists’ needs and wants.
For example, Turkey has grown at a rate 5.62 over the past two decades because of its historical site seeing and seaside resorts along the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. It’s interesting that despite recent terrorism and political upheaval, Turkey continues to build a solid reputation as a top tourist destination.
Other countries have similar hurdles to overcome before they become tourism mainstays. Many of the countries with lower growth rates tend to have issues with crime, economy, and an unsteady political climate that includes terrorism, bureaucratic upheaval, and government instability. Still, struggling countries, like Puerto Rico and Venezuela, have broad commercial appeal if they can remedy these bigger infrastructure issues.
With the advent of modern transportation and technology, the world is more accessible than ever before. We can now simply buy a ticket to see natural wonders up close, to taste and touch a different culture, to have a personally unique experience for ourselves. People no longer rely on migrating herds to travel, we just need a passport. And the booming tourism rates prove that if you build it, they will come.