Skift Take

Tourism growth is determined by a number of internal and external factors including the location and cultural significance of a destination as well as the economic health of their neighbors.

The number of travelers that criss-crossed the globe increased by 52 million in 2013. International tourist arrivals grew 5 percent to reach a record 1.087 billion, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Although the world’s most visited countries — led by France, the U.S. and China — remained relatively unchanged, several destinations reported significant increases in international tourists. The countries’ official year-end visitor numbers have not yet been released.

Japan experienced the greatest growth with a 24 percent spike in international visitors in 2013. Japan crossed the 10 million visitor milestone for the first time last year due to the weakened yen and a renewed focus on tourism promotion. The country spent the past two years building up its tourism industry after a earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011.

Other Asian countries including Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam also reported a more than 10 percent increase in arrivals. These statistics mirror the 6-percent increase in international tourist arrivals throughout all of Asia.

One of the most surprising up-and-coming destinations is Kazakhstan. The Central Asian country reported a 22 percent increase in arrivals last year.

This is likely due in part to the rising number of tourists coming out of nearby China and Russia. Outbound tourism expenditures from each country grew between 26 percent and 28 percent in the first nine months of 2013.

The 10 fastest growing tourism destinations of 2013 are listed below:

Country Growth in International Tourist Arrivals 2013
Japan 24%
Kazakhstan 21.9%
Thailand 19.6%
Greece 15.5%
Philippines 11.2%
Vietnam 10.6%
Turkey 10.5%
Russia 10.5%
UAE 10.4%
Taiwan 9.7%

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Tags: japan, kazakhstan, skiftstats, unwto

Photo credit: Boats await tourists on Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Vasenka Photography / Flickr

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