Tourism is a huge industry. It is an important pillar of many economies that generates billions of dollars annually. Without revenues from tourism even the world's strongest and most prosperous countries could shake. Despite the economic downturn, which has stopped many people from traveling, the world's most popular destinations still receive enormous numbers of visitors, who leave enormous amounts of money in the pockets of their hosts.
In 2008 there were 922 million tourists traveling to foreign countries (reflecting 2% growth year on year) where they spent US$ 944 billion, according to the World Tourist Organization. Of course, 2009 is to bring a decline in tourism due to the recession - in the first four months of the year there were 8% less people traveling around our globe in comparison to the same months of 2008. Still, by 2010 international arrivals are estimated to reach 1.6 billion.
Winter in Brixen, Austria. By jorik de beer
Tones of white fluffy snow perfect for skiing, Alpine hiking, cafes of Vienna, chocolate stores filled with the most delicious pralines, a superb cultural offer... It's hard to say "no" once you are there? So you don't, and neither do other tourists. Austria is a tiny country of great travel opportunities both in summer and winter months, and Austrians know how to make loads out of it. Tourism is an extremely important part of the country's economy - it accounts for almost 9% of Austrian GDP.
Somewhere in Turkey. By Sindre Sorhus
How not to visit (and spend money) a country with such a variety of archaeological, historical and natural sites (the state is home to two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). Over recent years Turkey has become one of the most popular travel destinations - between 2000 and 2008 the number of visitors increased from 8 million to almost 40 million! Therefore, the country is the world's eight most visited state (by number of arrivals) and the ninth revenue owner.
Surfing in Australia, Gold Coast. By Michael Dawes
Whether you come for surfing, best caffee latte in the world, or business, Australia is one of those countries you can easily fall in love with. The Opera House, Uluru, Great Ocean Road, fascinating outback, golden beaches and multicultural atmosphere...the country has a wide array of tempting offers for backpackers, holidaymakers and travelers, who left almost US$ 25 billion in the country in 2008, reflecting a 10% increase year on year. No wonder tourism is an important pillar of the Australian economy.
London. By Dimitry B
United Kingdom, and more specifically London, is a must-see for every traveler. The capital of Great Britain is the second most visited city in the world, with a number of visitors totaling to almost 15 million in 2008. With the strong British pound, the country is also one of the most expensive destinations where coffee may cost you twice as much as in other European countries. Still 30 million of visitors annually prove United Kingdom is worth what it earns.
Hohenzollern Castle in Germany. By Trodel
Germans are creative and inventive. They know how to make a product for sale out of everything, be it sausage, potatoes or yodeling. They don't have an Eiffel Tower, never-ending golden beaches, or Gaudi's architectural masterpieces that dot Barcelona, but still, tourism brought Germans US$ 40 billion in 2008. Be it fairy-tale castles, Berlin's liberal atmosphere, kebabs that conquer its Turkish archetype - something must have attracted 25 million people that came to visit Germany in 2008 and made the country the world's ninth most popular tourist destination.
Cong Sheng Temple, Dali, China. By CW YE
China is a colossal country of enormous travel opportunities and diversity that cannot be found anywhere else. It is becoming a more and more popular destination - in 2008, 53 million tourists arrived to China, making it the fourth most visited country in the world. By the way of comparison, in 1978, the country received about 230,000 foreign tourists. Among main areas generating the highest income for China are Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - these are the richest and the most frequently visited regions.
Vineyards in Rocchetta Belbo,Piedmont in Italy. By bluestardrop
Tourism is one of Italy's most profitable industrial sectors, with revenue of over US $45 billion. Rich art, superb cuisine, fashion and culture attract millions of visitors per year from around the world. Italy boasts 44 World Heritage sites, which is more than any other country on our globe, and its ancient cities, Mediterranean beaches and richness of tradition have been travel and money magnets for centuries.
Eguisheim, France. By Ela2007
No matter what you search for, you will find it in France. Millions know it, and they keep coming for superb skiing in the French Alps, laid-back surfing in Biarritz, crazy partying in Paris, relaxing in Boulogne or sampling best quality wine in Burgundy. In 2008 France was visited by 79 million people, which made it the world's number one destination by the number of visitors, and the country boasts the title of the world's third biggest tourism earner.
Valdoviño Beach, Galicia, Spain. By Carlospics
Golden beaches, medieval towns, flamenco dancers, fruity sangria, Barcelona's museums, ski slopes of Pyrenees - this (and much more) is Spain. Over the recent years the country has surpassed Italy, its Mediterranean rival, and now it is the world's third most popular travel destination. In the last two decades tourism has become a vital contributor to Spain's economy, generating around US$ 60 billion annually.
New York. By ferqusonphotography
In 2008, 35 million tourists visited Times Square, 31 million took a stroll down the Las Vegas Strip, 24 million saw the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington. The United States is the second most visited country in the world - the US regained its number two position in arrivals, which it lost to Spain after 11 September 2001. Moreover, the USA is the number one state in terms of revenues generated by tourism. In 2008 the country earned over US $ 110 billion, which is almost twice as much as Spain, the world's second biggest earner.