The best countries in the world for tourism, according to the World Economic Forum


The United States just won a major honor: being named the best country in the world for travel and tourism in 2024 by the World Economic Forum.

Rankings are determined by a wide range of criteria, including infrastructure, natural resources, sustainability, labor availability and, since we’re talking about the World Economic Fund, competitive pricing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the WEF data focuses on tourism (the business of hotels, airports, attractions, airlines and the like) and not just what it’s like to be a traveler on the ground.

Six of the top 10 countries on the list are in Europe, with Spain first overall. The report calls the continent “a resilient destination with strong intra-regional travel flows” and gives it high marks for its rail connectivity. There are also points for having strong economies, the good position of the euro and sterling and the likelihood of Europeans traveling more, which, in turn, means spending money.

It’s no surprise that France scores highly, coming in fourth overall. The country knows it has the eyes of the world watching the Summer Olympics in Paris this year.

Another factor taken into account is the power of many European passports. Each year, the Henley Index ranks the world’s most powerful passports and its data has been included in the WEF report. By 2024, six countries share the number one spot: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain. Five of those nations appear in the WEF top 10, with Singapore a respectable 13th.

Shanghai, pictured, is one of China's most popular tourist destinations.

“In 2024, global tourism growth is expected to be bolstered by continued meeting pent-up demand and growth in key Asian markets after travel restrictions have been lifted following a delay compared to other regions.” , says the report.

This certainly rings true in Japan, this year’s third-ranked country, which has been experiencing a tourism boom since its reopening after the pandemic. More than three million foreign tourists per month went to Japan in both March and April 2024, and more are expected to visit during the upcoming summer holidays.

Meanwhile, China, which occupies eighth place, has taken some measures in recent months to make it easier for tourists to visit. In March, it eliminated visa requirements for residents of several European countries, including Ireland, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

It is also easier than ever for Americans to visit China, as they no longer need to provide an itinerary or proof of hotel reservations to obtain a travel visa.

While the United States is the only North American country in the top 10, its neighbor Canada falls off the list in eleventh position.

According to the WEF, the United States is a “mature” tourism market, meaning it already has infrastructure to welcome visitors, such as air connections connecting cities and ground support such as tour guides, rental cars, hotel rooms and maps. .

The size and scope of the United States really helps it stand out: from national parks to big cities and magnificent beaches, there is a wide variety of offerings for travelers.

However, there is a possible caveat amid the praise. The report says there is a possibility that the United States could experience a tourism labor shortage. As in many places around the world, the pandemic played a role in people leaving the hospitality business to work elsewhere.

Australia is praised for its wide variety of tourism offerings, such as the world-famous Bondi Beach (pictured).

It seems impossible to look at a list of the most popular countries for tourists without also recognizing that in some places the problem is overtourism. The United States (first of all) and China have the advantage of being large and having a lot of space to work with, which helps distribute the flow of visitors.

However, not all destinations in the top 10 are so lucky. In second place in Spain, Barcelona voted to keep cruise ships away from the city centre, while citizens of the Canary Islands took to the streets – and even threatened a hunger strike – to protest against overtourism. .

Italy, in ninth position, has also struggled to balance its thriving tourism market with the needs of local communities.

Venice began charging a “tourist tax” entrance fee last month, and the northern Bolzano-South Tyrol region has limited its hotel capacity, allowing a new hotel to open only if another has closed.

Spain was the highest ranked European country on the WEF list.

1. United States

2. Spain

3. Japan

4. France


6. Germany

7. The United Kingdom


9. Italy

10. Switzerland

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