Amazing Facts About Tourism
Which countries are the most popular among tourists? What national parks welcome the most visitors every year? And just how common are plane crashes anyways?
If you've ever found yourself asking questions like these — we've got you covered.
The following charts and graphs illustrate facts about travel that will inspire, surprise and maybe even shock you (wait, how many people get the norovirus on cruise ships?!)
First up? A fact about just how much more it costs to visit a Disney park these days than it used to...
Disney Attendance Has Grown Rapidly Over the Years — And Prices Have Risen Even More
If you feel like Disney prices have become downright egregious, well, this chart proves you're right. As the blue bars show, annual attendance has soared at Anaheim, California's Disneyland since it opened in 1955 — but as the red line reveals, the entry price has increased even more sharply.
It's shocking to believe, but in 1981, you could enter the Happiest Place on Earth for about 10 bucks (around $28 adjusted for inflation). And this graph doesn't even reflect the current numbers, which exceed what's shown here. Today, a two-day pass to Disneyland will set you back $112 a day!
Iceland Has Way More Visitors Than Residents
Iceland, once a hidden gem, has soared in popularity over the last couple decades.
Around 2000, the number of tourists visiting the country started surpassing its resident count; by 2017, there were three tourists for every one Iceland resident.
Amazingly, this is far from the most skewed resident-to-visitor ratio in the world — in Adorra, there are 33.5 annual tourists per resident!
Amsterdam is the Most Expensive City in Europe
Paris, London and Rome immediately come to mind when one thinks of pricey European destinations. But none of these three make the list of the most expensive cities on the continent.
Instead, it's Amsterdam that earns this less-than-flattering distinction, costing the equivalent of about $662 for a two-night stay (and that's not including airfare!).
With its charming canals, iconic windmills, vintage shops and world-class museums, though, the city is still worth visiting. Just start saving up now...
Italy Has the Largest Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Barely edging out China, Italy reigns supreme when it comes to sites honored by UNESCO for their cultural, historical or scientific significance. Honored destinations include the historic center of Rome, the stunning Amalfi Coast and the ghostly ruins of Pompei.
Fatal Plane Accidents Are Very Uncommon — And Hijackings Almost Never Happen
Aviophobics can breathe a sigh of relief: Thanks to improved technology and stricter regulations, the number of plane accidents resulting in fatalities has fallen dramatically over the years. But this doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing: In fact, in 2018, the year after this chart was released, plane crash fatalities rose sharply.
As for plane hijackings, they're practically nonexistent at this point. Wondering why this graph shows such a huge spike in "skyjackings," as they were called, between the '60s and '70s? During those years, a rash of hijackers took advantage of lax regulations to, among other things, demand ransom on the regular. There were even instances of multiple hijackings happening in the same day!
Happily, those days are over and flying is now (mostly) a perfectly safe pursuit.
Travelers' Biggest Gripe About Flying? Limited Legroom
Over the years, in the name of "efficiency," airlines have put the squeeze on travelers by reducing their legroom. And it turns out people are none too pleased about this change.
More than two-thirds of TripAdvisor respondents say uncomfortable seats and limited legroom is their biggest travel annoyance, beating out gripe-worthy stalwarts like egregious add-on fees and screaming babies.
Want to enjoy at least some room to stretch out your legs? Fly JetBlue, which offers the most legroom of any airline (33-34 inches).
United Arab Emirates Has the Most Powerful Passport
If you live in the UAE, the world is your oyster; without obtaining a prior visa, you can easily visit 167 countries.
While not at the very top, the U.S. fares well on this front too, offering its residents the opportunity to see 165 countries with minimal stress.
"Game of Thrones" Fervor Has Caused a Tourism Spike in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Between 2005 and 2010, visitation to the Croatian city of Dubrovnik grew a bit, from 1 to 1.1 million people, or a change of about 100,000 people.
Then, in 2011, a little show called "Game of Thrones" began filming in the city, using its historic sights as stand-ins for locations in and around King's Landing. And in the following five years, tourism swelled by 500,000 people.
Still today, many companies offer GoT-themed tours. Dragon sightings are not guaranteed.
Great Smoky Mountains is America's Most Visited National Park By Far
America's most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, trounces the competition. Last year, it welcomed 5 million+ visitors more than runner-up Grand Canyon. And Grand Canyon in turn had nearly a couple million more visitors than the cluster of parks following.
Travelers have some clear favorites when it comes to their national parks!
Golden Gate Recreation Area is the Most Visited National Park Service Site
While Great Smoky Mountains is the most-frequented of the country's 61 official national parks, when you factor in the other 357 recreation areas, parkways, historical parks, seashores, monuments and other sites under the purview of the National Park Service, it slips to third.
In the No. 2 slot is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which travels through Virginia and North Carolina. And at No. 1, welcoming an astonishing 15.2 million visitors a year, is the Golden Gate Recreation Area, featuring the famed San Francisco bridge.
In Hawaii, People Spend the Largest Amount of Money on One of the Least-Visited Islands
In Hawaii, the vast majority of travelers head to the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island; the tiny islands of Lanai and Molokai welcome less than 1 percent of visitors to the state.
Those who do make it to Lanai, though, spend way more money than on any other island. Partly because it is so hard to get to, the island is exclusive and extremely ritzy. Its primary resort is a Four Seasons, with yet another Four Seasons set to open after an extensive renovation soon.
Europe Makes the Most Money Off International Travelers — By a Long Shot
Europe nets more than half a trillion dollars off international tourism — well over $100 billion more than runners-up the Americas and Asia/Pacific. (No word on how much of that money is spent on pasta and croissants alone...)
While the Middle East is lagging well behind in last place, it saw the most significant growth — a very healthy 13 percent — between 2017 and 2018.
Chinese Tourists Love Australia
Who knew? Of all the countries around the world, it's China that sends the largest number of people to visit Australia.
While this may seem random, it makes some sense when you consider that an increasing number of Chinese people are traveling in general, thanks to a healthy economy. In 2000, 10.5 million overseas trips were made by Chinese residents. By 2018, that number jumped to nearly 150 million, a staggering 1,326 percent increase.
As more Chinese people plan overseas trips, it seems the Land Down Under beckons.
Spain Gets the Biggest Economic Boost from Tourism
Spain, the second-most-visited country in the world after France, relies heavily on tourism to keep its economy humming. In fact, more than 11 percent of its total GDP is derived from travelers who explore its cities, lay on its beaches and eat its food.
Granted, there can be a downside to all this tourism — the proliferation of tourists heading to Barcelona has been accused of "killing" the city — but for the most part, there's a tangible benefit to so many visitors exploring the country.
And that's the story of just one place; across the world, travel and tourism generated 10.4 percent of all global economic activity last year, contributing $8.8 trillion to the global economy.
People Are Most Interested in Traveling to Spend Time with Family or Friends
When the hotel research company STR surveyed 28,000 engaged travelers from across the globe, it found that R&R landed dead last on the list of reasons people traveled.
Instead, people primarily travel to explore new places with those they love or to knock dream destinations off their bucket list.
Most People Travel With Their Romantic Partner
Much has been made of solo travel being on the rise, and family travel has long been a major part of the tourism industry.
But it's couples seeking romance who, by a long shot, are enjoying the most global travel.
Culture and Sightseeing Are the Most Important Factors When Planning a Trip
We're kind of surprised to see food and drink in second-to-last place here! We thought everyone traveled to eat?!
Most International Travelers Book Vacations Between 8-14 Nights Long
Not only is 13 nights the average length of stay for people traveling internationally, but more than a quarter of people are able to swing trips that surpass 15 nights. Must be all those Europeans with their notoriously amazing vacation policies!
When it Comes to Michelin-Starred Restaurants, Japan Leads the Pack
When it comes to Michelin stars, awarded to the best-of-the-best restaurants on the planet, Japan and France are neck and neck. In terms of cities, Tokyo takes the No. 1 spot, with Paris at No. 2.
London Has More Airbnb Rooms Than Any Other City
London handily beats the competition when it comes to Airbnb offerings, offering upwards of 20,000 more listings than runner-up Paris. Unfortunately, it's also the second-most-expensive city for Airbnb stays, after famously pricey New York City.
Looking for places with an abundance of listings at affordable rates? As this chart shows, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Berlin, Germany are your best bets.
Airbnb Is Worth More Than Many Major Hotel Companies
Airbnb launched in 2008; by 2015, just seven years later, it was worth more than many of the major hotel brands, including Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham. And it's only ballooned further in valuation since; last year, it was valued at $31 billion.
More than 2,000 People are Affected by the Norovirus on Cruise Lines Every Year
It's actually very uncommon for cruise-ship passengers to get the norovirus, a nonfatal infection that can cause chills, fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue; there's a 1-in-5,500 risk of getting the virus during a cruise-ship outbreak.
Still, seeing the numbers devoid of context can be a bit alarming. Even scarier is hearing stories of specific outbreaks — like the 475 passengers and crew members who were infected aboard the Royal Caribbean "Oasis of the Seas" ship in January, some of whom took to Twitter to tell stories of their agony. #Yikes.
The World's Most Popular Travel Destinations Are the U.S., Western Europe and China
As this heat map shows, visitors can't get enough of the U.S., Western Europe and China. On the flipside, travelers are shying away from many countries in Africa and the Middle East, though there are plenty of places in those areas — notably South Africa and, in the Middle East, Dubai — that are quite popular.
The Fastest-Growing Tourism Region is Asia & the Pacific
Since 1950, Asia and the Pacific — a region encompassing East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania — has carved out an increasingly large share of the international-tourism pie.
And it shows no signs of stopping soon; of the 25 fastest-growing tourism destinations on Earth, 24 are in Asia.
Canada and Mexico Account for Nearly Half of All Visitors to the U.S.
It's probably not a huge surprise that the United States gets the largest share of visitors from its northern and southern neighbors. But the fact that the numbers of visitors from these two countries is about equal to the numbers of visitors from all other countries combined is pretty impressive.