The world's top tourism spots: where does SA fit in?

South Africa, France, Sierra Leone, the US ... they couldn't be more different and yet they're all popular travel destinations, says the United Nations World Tourism Organisation

03 September 2017 - 07:51 By Elizabeth Sleith
France retained its position as the world's favourite tourism destination in 2016, according to the UN's World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
France retained its position as the world's favourite tourism destination in 2016, according to the UN's World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Image: #paris.bigcity

What's the world's favourite country?

Sacré bleu - it's France!

Well, if you're going by the number of people from other countries who went there last year and spent at least one night, it's France.

If you're going by where visitors spent the most money, then the US definitely comes up, ahem, trumps.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation released its annual ranking of the world's favourite nations recently, with France emerging triumphant in terms of global visitor numbers.

The country took in 82.6 million visitors in 2016, taking the top spot for the second year in a row, despite the fact that it suffered a small dip in numbers from 2015.

Counting the coffers, however, the US made an astounding $206-billion in 2016, making it the world's highest tourism earner.

And as their president would surely say, that's the best ever. Totally awesome. Amazing.

But back to the people thing.

That totally awesome and amazing nation was only the second-most totally awesome and amazing when it came to visitor numbers.

That is, 75.61 million people spent at least one night in the US, followed closely by Spain in third place with 75.56 million.

China (60 million) and Italy (52.4 million) rounded out the top five.

Interestingly, the world's fastest-growing travel destination, according to the UNWTO figures, is in Africa: Sierra Leone.

Overseas arrivals have been rising there, from 40,000 in 2005 to 74,400 in 2016.

Impressively, the country had a 310% spike in overseas arrivals in 2016, compared with the 24,000 of the previous year.

South Africa - being totally awesome and amazing too - remains the continent's biggest draw, with more than 10 million arrivals.

Tourism tumbled in Turkey, however, from 14.05-million in 2010 to 5.35-million in 2016.

Meanwhile, Instagram has released some figures of its own to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its Stories feature - and some of the results may surprise you.

As well as posting the usual, static images to Instagram, the Stories feature allows users to share what's happening in the moment.

Any image posted to a Story stays live for just 24 hours - and then it's gone.

The point is to allow users to share events as they happen without clogging up their permanent, pretty feed.

And it turns out the number one spot for using it is Jakarta, Indonesia. Or rather, Jakarta is the most tagged location on the Stories feature.

Followed by Sao Paulo and New York City, London and Madrid.

CNN reports that while Jakarta is indeed a gorgeous city worth several zillion photos on Instagram, its number-one placement is probably down to the popularity of the
photo-sharing phenomenon in Indonesia.

The country is the largest market for Instagram in the Asia Pacific, with some 45 million people using it - and they use the Story feature twice as much as the average user. Because sharing is awesome too.