France. Italy. Spain. We certainly know which countries are affected by overtourism. But what about “undertouristed” countries? Where can you go if you want to escape the crowds? Or is that premise totally wrong?
Seeeking to answer that question, Intrepid Travel recently released its 2019 Adventure Travel Index. It uses a “tourism density ratio” not only to identify countries crowded with tourists, but also those “off the beaten track” nations. The ratio compares the number of overseas visitors with the country’s total population.
The Top 10 “Undertouristed” Countries
- Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea experiences less than three visitors per 100 residents, representing the most “undertouristed” country in the world. But what about some of the other countries? Does something seem off?
A Big Flaw
My beef with this study is that it does not seem to factor in population concentration centers that certainly render many on the list above hardly “off the beaten track”. For example, Indonesia may have a low tourism density ratio overall, but head to Jakarta or Bali and you’ll face crowds unlike you’ve ever seen. Head to Egypt and Cario will be packed with tourists. The Sinai…not so much. Same stories in Colombia and Kenya. And isn’t that true for France, Italy, and Spain as well? Head to the Normandy region of France and you may drives miles before encountering another car. Head to a small Italian village like Atina and you’ll be the only foreign guest.
On the other hand, perhaps that just means you’ll have to do your homework a bit more. Indonesia is full of beaches and many do not experience many tourists at all…check out Sumatra, Sulawesi or Flores. The 10 nations above–and all nations really–have beautiful places that are not overrun with tourists.
I’m intrigued by a list that accurately captures the sort of nations where you truly feel alone. I certainly felt that when I visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Lucky from One Mile at a Time. But I tend to think the better list would be regions within nations that don’t feel like an amusement park.
Iran? Can figure why?
I should have mentioned that countries like Iraq, Yemen, or Syria where tourist data is not available were not included in the list.
Matthew – how about creating your own list of ‘underappreciated’ tourist destinations?
I will do so.
I won’t travel to Papua New Guinea because there is not much that I am interested in seeing AND because of the high crime rate in Port Moresby.
I know Dushanbe is in Tajikistan without even looking for it was a stock phrase in Russian lessons, which I forgot nearly all of it. No desire to go. It borders Afghanistan.
Iran is at political odds with the U.S. so no for now.
Obscure countries that I want to visit include the Faroe Islands (not quite a country), Bolivia, San Marino, Republic of China on Taiwan (not that obscure), Oman, Jordan (not that obscure).
Indonesia, I have been.
Egypt is interesting but never have been there. There is a slight risk of terrorist attack. Higher than other countries but the vast majority of visitors are not murdered. Unfortunately, a few are.
Cool story bro
I felt like the only traveller in Mongolia. For that and other reasons, it’s in top 3 countries I’ve ever visited. Absolutely amazing. Surprisingly Bhutan didn’t make the list which was a similar experience to Mongolia.
Egypt, nice sites, though the locals leave much to be desired, Just saying. Few go back to Egypt a second time.
Taiwan is under appreciated: it’s culturally rich, physically beautiful, easily accessible, welcoming, not outrageously expensive. Underrated,
How about the Faroe Islands? There’s a place not many people go (but it is truly enchanting).
Can’t wait to visit there!
That’s the hideous dump where hundreds of thousands of Puffins ( and many other seabirds) are brutally murdered each year to cater for bizarre dietary preferences. It’s on my never visit list.