Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

These Are the Best & Worst Countries to Visit in 2017

Wikipedia Commons / Cristo Vlahos

This morning, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its biennial Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. The 387-page report examines 136 countries, looking at several factors that contribute to tourism potential, including: environmental sustainability, infrastructure, as well as safety and security. 

According to the report, the global tourism industry is worth $7.6 trillion and creates almost 300 million jobs. In 2016 there were 1.2 billion tourist arrivals worldwide. 

Take action: We Challenge You to join Our Week Long Action Challenge to Protect Our Environment

For some countries, tourism accounts for nearly half of their gross domestic product (GDP). This is primarily true for small island countries, like the Maldives and Aruba, but also for some more unexpected destinations, such as the Palestinian territories and Cambodia. 

Of course, the global tourism industry also has a dark side. 

Air traffic has doubled every 15 years since 1980, the report states, and, overall, tourism is responsible for 5% of global CO2 emissions. Restaurant industries, especially in developing countries, can take a toll on local food production systems. Hotel construction can lead to deforestation and environmental degradation. 

“It is important to recognize that processes, mechanisms, and activities associated with tourism also damage the environment,” the report stated.  

Read more: Travel Between Cuba, US Just Got Easier

Recently, the popularity of ecotourism and green initiatives has presented a softer face of this sometimes-exploitative industry. When travelers go beyond “sea, sun, and sand” tourism, they can be a force for good, giving back to the community through “volun-tourism” and helping the local environment through “agri-tourism.” 

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index rankings take into account “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.” 

Expectedly, many sub-Saharan African countries struggle with the Competitiveness Index because at this point they simply lack the infrastructure to support tourist arrivals, whereas countries in Western Europe and North America do not. 

Taking into account these, and many other factors, here are the 10 best and worst places for tourism, according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. 

Best: 

1. Spain

2. France

3. Germany

4. Japan 

5. United Kingdom

6. United States

7. Australia 

8. Italy 

9. Canada 

10. Switzerland

Worst: 

1. Yemen 

2. Chad

3. Burundi

4. Democratic Republic of Congo

5. Mauritania

6. Sierra Leone

7. Mali

8. Nigeria

9. Lesotho

10. Benin