What Country Travels The Most? The Top 10

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There are two things you can guarantee to see when you check into any hostel in the world: a sub-standard bathroom and a British backpacker. I’m not saying the two are in any way related, but any traveler who has spent any time on the road will tell you they’ve run into a Brit. Ask what other nationality, and you’re likely to get Australian, then maybe German. Which begs the question: What country travels the most?

Turns out, it’s not exactly a straightforward answer. Predictably, the travel statistics out there usually focus on where those travelers are going (France, followed by the U.S., Spain, China, then Italy). But there is scant data on where those travelers are coming from.

WorldHum blogged about a press release back in ’06 that stated Germans took 86.6 million trips abroad, Britons took 65.3 million, and Americans took 58.3 million. This didn’t necessarily mean those counties were the most traveled internationally. It just meant that those three countries took the most trips abroad overall.

Perhaps the best method of determining this question would be to examine how much money is being spent by each nationality internationally. To do this we can look at the recent UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, a newsletter put out by the U.N. agency devoted to tourism (the .pdf is here).

According to the report, it turns out money is a very good predictor of travel. It was estimated that in 2009, German travelers shelled out a whopping $80.8 billion while outside their country, followed by the United States ($73.1 billion), the United Kingdom ($48.5 billion), China ($43.7 billion) and France ($38.9 billion). Rounding out the top ten were Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands.

1) Germany
2) United States
3) United Kingdom
4) China
5) France
6) Italy
7) Japan
8) Canada
9) Russia
10) Netherlands

Of course these numbers could be a little skewed by the fact that a particular country happens to be a little more frugal than another while on the road, or that one country spends a lot of money in a neighboring country. But it paints a pretty accurate picture, and also seems to back up prior data.

Surprised by the results? Where are the Aussies? How about the Swedes? China about to overtake the U.K.?

By Matt Stabile



Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)

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