The recent spate of bad publicity about attitudes towards women—including some recent attacks on tourists—has also done little to boost the country’s image. 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. Why are numbers low? Political instability bedevilled the country for many years, and natural disasters certainly have not helped, Typhoon Haiyan being a recent, tragic example.
Despite those images of devastation, most of the country remains open for business, as explained here. 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. Why are numbers low? This is the country’s own choice.
Bhutan has long limited tourists: visitors have to pay a tariff of $250 a day to enter, a fee that immediately excludes many of the backpackers that head to Thailand. 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. Why are numbers low? 5.7 million visitors isn’t that bad, you might argue, considering the country is hardly positioned at the world’s crossroads.
But then, Australia gets more than six million, and it is further away from both Europe and the USA. Bolivia and Peru are two other countries where the visitor numbers don’t seem to match the attractions on offer. 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. Why are numbers low? Greece’s recent travails have been well documented, and there was inevitably an effect on the country due to that. Signs are that tourism is on the rise again—with around 17 million people thought to have visited in 2013.
Not a disaster, but then, when you think Spain has almost 60m and Italy is at almost 50m. 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). Why are numbers low? High prices are probably the main reason—although with the devalued yen, that is less of a problem than it used to be.
The country’s cultural complexity could be another—perhaps the writing and language are viewed as obstacles by novices. The 2020 Olympics could provide a boost, however. 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. Why are numbers low? It’s a very long way away from almost everywhere, with a much smaller population than Australia (and hence fewer European relatives to visit). Australia also has more flight connections, and a reputation for its beaches.
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. Why are numbers low? Expense would be one reason; Norway is hardly a destination for the budget traveller. Sweden also has more neighbours, which would explain some of the discrepancy, with the country easily accessible across the bridge from Denmark. 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. Why are numbers low? Robert Mugabe. 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. Why are numbers low?