What Makes Tourist Destinations Popular?

Factors like the number and quality of attractions make a destination popular among tourists.
Factors like the number and quality of attractions make a destination popular among tourists.
  • 1.4 billion tourists traveled around the world in 2018.
  • More than half of all global tourists visit Europe each year.
  • Overtourism in some parts of the world has led to negative environmental and economic effects.

Travel becomes more accessible and affordable with each year that passes. In 2018, an estimated 1.4 billion tourists traveled to some part of the world, an increase of 50% in just ten years. But these tourists were not evenly distributed; more than half visited Europe, for example, while only a tenth visited both Africa and the Middle East combined.

So what makes a tourist destination popular? Why do travelers flock to certain regions but avoid others? Science has shown that there are certain specific qualities that determine the attractiveness of tourist destinations.

5 Qualities That Make a Tourist Destination Popular


The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty are all examples of famous world attractions. Some tourists may visit a destination just to see one of these attractions, and the more attractions in a single place, the more tourists will want to go. From monuments to museums, attractions are how tourists will spend a large part of their day on vacation. 


Experiencing another culture’s food is one of the best ways to get to know a new place. In fact, food tourism has become its own type of travel in recent years and is often a motivating factor in convincing travelers to choose a specific destination. Tourists can even make reservations with food tour companies to get a fully guided experience in foreign cuisine.


In order to support tourism, a destination needs to have adequate infrastructure to support a large influx of visitors. This includes transportation, accommodation, and reliable access to basic utilities like internet, running water, and electricity. The more modern the infrastructure, the more likely tourists will feel comfortable visiting a destination.


From mountains to beaches to cityscapes, landscape alone can be enough to draw tourists to a destination. Tourist destinations with landscapes that are considered more attractive are likely to see a higher number of visitors. Alternatively, destinations that do a poor job of maintaining their landscape may see a decline in tourism as travelers are put off by the quality of their surroundings and decide to go elsewhere.


With the ever-growing popularity of social media, many destinations are learning that their branding efforts are key in competing with other places to attract tourists. Potential travelers may learn about a destination through online advertising or social media and eventually decide to visit that place. It’s an easy way for destinations to convince tourists to choose them over other locations. Without a strong social media presence, a tourist destination may find that its number of annual visitors begins to decline.

Are Some Tourist Destinations Too Popular?

Due to a combination of better accessibility and social media popularity, some experts argue that certain tourist destinations are becoming too popular. The number of annual visitors is growing faster than some destinations can manage, leading to overtourism. Examples include the Louvre Museum and Mount Everest, both of which have been experiencing enormous crowds of tourists in recent years. The effects include pollution, destruction of nature, and skyrocketing cost of living for locals.

Some destinations, including Barcelona and Rome, have begun to impose restrictions on tour buses and vacation property rentals in order to combat this issue. It’s still too early to tell if they will have any effect.


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