Despite the long-standing conflict in the Middle East, more visitors are venturing to countries like Palestine, Egypt and Tunisia. South American destinations, like Uruguay and Chile, have also seen impressive growth over the past year.
If you’re looking to travel to the coolest destinations before everybody else, consider this list your guide.
1. Palestinian Territories
Over the past year, international tourist visits to Palestine increased almost 58%. The West Bank sees the most visitors around Christmas when Bethlehem hosts a midnight mass.
3. Northern Mariana Islands
This US territory saw a 37% tourist growth over the past year. The tropical archipelago, northeast of Guam, is known for its casinos and beaches lined with palm trees.
Since 2010, tourists in Iceland have tripled. And trends continued last year, with a 35% increase. Visitors tend to go between June and August, when the weather is kinder and there are more hours of daylight.
Tunisia is recovering from its 2015 terrorist attack fairly quickly. The country had a 33% increase in tourists last year. Tourists are heading back to the country for its resorts, beaches and preserved ancient history.
Some people are calling Uruguay South America’s latest hot spot. Over the past year, 3 million people visited the country — a 30% increase from the previous year, according to UNWTO. Be sure to visit the capital of Montevideo and attempt some celebrity spotting on the beaches of Punta del Este.
Tourism to Mongolia increased 28% last year. Tourists are drawn to Mongolia’s secluded resorts and the surprise overnight growth of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
Israel received 2.9 million visitors last year, a 25% increase over the previous year. Despite the fact that the country is only the size of New Jersey, it packs a historical punch. Tourists flock to the Dead Sea, the Western Wall and the nightlife of Tel Aviv.
Despite the fact that one of Malta’s most popular tourist attractions, the Azure Window, crumbled into the sea earlier this year, visitation increased 23 percent. It’s become a popular location for shooting feature films, including Gladiator, Captain Phillips and even The Da Vinci Code.
When explorers first discovered the 115-island archipelago of Seychelles, they believed they had come across the Garden of Eden. Its popularity is growing, with a 20% increase in tourist visits over the past year.
Another quickly-growing South American country is Chile, which also received 20% more tourists over the past year. Its diverse landscapes and environment make it a great destination for the outdoorsy types.
This Middle Eastern country is cementing itself as bona fide luxury destination. UNWTO says that over the past year, it’s seen a 19% increase in tourism. Oman has only been open to tourists since the 1980s, so it’s still relatively unspoiled. Although, go quickly: A new resort seems to open there every day.
Throughout its long history (over 3,000 years), Armenia has been plagued by conflict. However now, in more stable times, the country had an 18% growth in tourism over the past year. Because it was the world’s first Christian country, many of the most popular tourist attractions are monasteries that date back thousands of years.
Maybe it’s partially because of the popularity of Narcos, but Colombia had 18% growth in tourism last year. In recent years, the country (and specifically the capital of Bogota) has become world-renowned as a foodie destination.
Finland is often overlooked in favor of other, more popular Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Denmark. However in the past year, it’s seen a 17% boost in tourism. Go to experience a traditional sauna, dine on reindeer meat and gaze up at the northern lights in Finnish Lapland.
Ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games, Japan is busy preparing for tourists. This past year, 17% more people visited the country. And tourists are venturing far outside of Tokyo; Osaka and Kyoto both saw increased tourism in the past year, too.