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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, from Uzbekistan to Iran

The Independent logo The Independent 03/02/2020 Helen Coffey

Shah-I-Zinda is a famous architectural complex, necropolis in Samarkand, Uzbekistan © getty Shah-I-Zinda is a famous architectural complex, necropolis in Samarkand, Uzbekistan Overseas trips hit 1.5 billion in 2019, up four per cent from 2018, according to the latest statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

France remained the most-visited country with more than 90 million visitors, followed by Spain’s 83.8 million.

But the most interesting stats related to the countries that saw the highest jump in visitor numbers year-on-year.

Top of the pack was Myanmar, which saw a 40.2 per cent per cent increase in visitors, followed by Puerto Rico (31.2 per cent) and Iran (27.9 per cent), although this last is likely to suffer a drop in 2020 given the current political climate.

Other trends saw central Asia increase in popularity, with Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan all in the top 20 fastest growing destinations.

Gallery: The world's most beautiful cities to visit in 2020 (Love Exploring)

Winter sun destinations previously hit by terror attacks also saw a comeback last year, with Egypt seeing a 21.1 per cent increase in visitor numbers, Turkey a 14 per cent rise, and Tunisia up 13.6 per cent.

The Caribbean also saw a return to favour having recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017 – visits to Anguilla, St Maarten, Dominica and the US Virgin Islands all rose significantly.

However, it wasn’t good news for every destination, with many blighted by political turmoil and terrorism.

Sri Lanka experienced an 18 per cent drop in tourist numbers, due in large part to the terror attacks over Easter.

Hong Kong saw an 18.8 per cent decrease following protests and social unrest.

The US was down 1.3 per cent on visitor numbers, while the UK saw a 1.7 per cent uptick.

The region that saw the biggest growth was the Middle East, at 8 per cent; the Americas saw the least, at 2 per cent.

Sunrise landscape view with silhouettes of old temples, Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) © Getty Sunrise landscape view with silhouettes of old temples, Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) Fastest growing countries for tourism

1. Myanmar 40.2%

2. Puerto Rico 31.2%

3. Iran 27.9%

4. Uzbekistan 27.3%

5. Montenegro 21.4%

6. Egypt 21.1%

7. Vietnam 16.2%

8. Philippines 15.1%

9. Maldives 14.9%

10. Bahamas 14.6%

11. Qatar 14.5%

12. Armenia 14.4%

12. South Korea 14.4%

13. Turkey 14.0%

14. Bosnia and Herzegovina 13.7%

15. Tunisia 13.6%

16. Laos 11.5%

17. Azerbaijan 11.4%

18. Israel 10.5%

19. Lithuania 10.1%

20. Kazakhstan 10.0%

Gallery: The best holiday destinations for every month of the year (Red UK)

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