REVEALED: World’s least-visited countries
If you dream of spending your vacation on a deserted beach, you might need to be prepared to travel to the far-flung Pacific, since the world's largest ocean is home to some of the least-visited countries on the planet.
Photography Dmitry Malov / Getty Images
From beaches covered with towels laid out by tourists on the Spanish coast, to the snaking queue of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, or the procession of tourists tramping around the ramparts in Dubrovnik, Croatia, crowds are not only detrimental to the environment and the local population, but also to the experience of visitors themselves.
While more and more destinations are implementing policies to restrict tourist numbers to preserve their landmark sites – as is the case in the Philippines, the Galápagos Islands and Marseille’s calanques – the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has shared a new report highlighting the world’s top 10 destinations least likely to be affected by overtourism. They are, in fact, the countries with the lowest annual visitor numbers. Note that the international organisation bases its findings on figures for 2019.
What all the destinations have in common is their relative inaccessibility, which logically prevents large numbers of visitors from showing up. It’s not so much that there are no airports or connections, but that would-be visitors have to invest time, effort and money in reaching their final destination. Such is the case for the world’s least-visited country: the Polynesian archipelago of Tuvalu.
According to Skyscanner, a round trip to Tuvalu requires a budget of about €3,500 (about R69,100), as there are no direct flights from Paris. The same goes for the Marshall Islands, which can take up to 42 hours, including stopovers, to reach from Europe. In fact, the same could logically be said for the many of the Pacific Ocean destinations that make up this list.
Recently, blogger Johnny Ward – who visited every country in the world between 2007 and 2017 – shared his own list of the world’s least-visited countries. His analysis went even further, highlighting four categories of destination: war zones, hard-to-reach African countries, certain islands in the South Pacific, and totally closed-off states such as North Korea.
Top 10 Least-Visited Countries in the World (United Nations World Tourism Organization):
- Tuvalu (3,700)
- Marshall Islands (6,100)
- Niue (10,200)
- Kiribati (12,000)
- Micronesia (18,000)
- Montserrat (19,300)
- Solomon Islands (29,000)
- São Tomé and Principe (34,900)
- Comoros (45,000)
- Guinea-Bissau (52,000)