Where can you snorkel with manatees, explore ancient civilizations, and even go sandboarding?
Welcome to Egypt. And if you’re already booking a flight, you’re not alone. The Middle Eastern nation just topped the list of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, Forbes reported. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s most recent report, Egypt experienced 55.1 percent growth in the number of visitors from 2016 to 2017.
Known as the Cradle of Civilization, Egypt is home to the Great Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza. You can also explore the bustling bazaars of Cairo or take a cruise down the Nile River. More of an adventure seeker? Egypt has also become a destination for serious windsurfers and scuba divers who explore its coral reefs. Don’t miss these “tourist traps” around the world that are actually worth visiting.
Travelers to Egypt hit a high point in 2010 with 14.7 million visitors—beating the number of tourists that visited Paris that year. But tourism took a hit in 2011, after a revolution that toppled the government of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, and again in 2015, when a Russian airliner was shot down over the Sinai Peninsula.
But since Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was elected president in 2013, Egypt has been peaceful. And more people are visiting the country again, with about 8.3 million tourists in 2017 and more anticipated for 2018.
Here are the other destinations with topped the list of increased visits from tourists:
- Togo: 46.7 percent. This West African nation on the Gulf of Guinea is known for its white beaches, markets, and its friendly residents.
- Vietnam: 29.1 percent. In the bustling capital city Hanoi, you can wander around the Old Quarter, explore Nha Tho Cathedral—the Vietnamese equivalent of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris—and take in the Hanoi Hilton, the prison that once housed the late U.S. Senator John McCain.
- Georgia: 27.9 percent. Nestled between Russia, Europe, and the Middle East, this former Soviet satellite is known as a budget destination with centuries-old monasteries, mountain villages, and traditional wines.
- Palestine: 25.7 percent. Home to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, this occupied territory contains the historic religious cities of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Hebron.
- Niue: 25.4 percent. Swim with dolphins and explore the coral reefs in the clear waters off this tropical island northeast of New Zealand. Or poke around what may be the most extensive cave system in the South Pacific.
- Nepal: 24.8 percent. Tourism is big business in this country in the Himalayan mountains, which is home to Mount Everest. It’s also the birthplace of Gautama Buddha and the capital city of Kathmandu is filled with historic temples.
- Israel: 24.6 percent. Featuring beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean and lots of nightlife, Israel’s capital city Tel Aviv is known as “the Mediterranean capital of cool.” You can also explore Israel’s religious heritage, with tours of Jerusalem, Galilee, and the Dead Sea.
- Northern Mariana Islands: 24.3 percent. These idyllic 15 islands just north of Guam are a boon for history buffs. Tour the archaeological sites of the indigenous Chamorro people or explore buildings from World War II, including a Japanese lighthouse.
- Iceland and Turkey (tie): 24.1 percent. Iceland’s fjords, spas, and waterfalls have made it a popular destination with tourists, while Turkey’s historic capital, Budapest, and beaches along the Black Sea have long attracted visitors.
Next, find out the most overrated tourist attractions in the world.