The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that the direct contribution of the tourism and travel industry to worldwide GDP was US$2.1 trillion in 2012. What’s more, the industry directly contributed to 101 million jobs around the world.
Here are the fastest growing travel and tourism destinations as measured by direct contribution of travel & tourism as a percentage of the country’s GDP in year 2012.
Qatar (up 28.3%)
Feel the future of this oil rich Middle East nation by walking along the capital Doha’s gleaming seafront at Al-Corniche, ornamented with the some of the Middle East’s most superb contemporary buildings. In addition, witness the past in Doha’s most intricate souq market at Souq Waqif, with a remarkable variety of spices and shimmering textiles. There is more to Qatar than the capital city of Doha. At the exquisite ‘inland sea’ of Khor al-Adaid, make the use the dune for a pillow and gaze at the star-lit sky. Take pleasure in Al-Khor, earlier a pearl-fishing community on the northeastern coast of Qatar. Stay at a camp under a desert mushroom and watch the shallow waters at Bir Zekreet, Land of Desert Mushrooms.
Azerbaijan (up 24.8%)
Experience the rich cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, the country that lies at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. See the historic mountain capital of Sheki by witnessing the 18th-century Palace of the Sheki Khans, an example of marvelous Islamic architecture. At Baku, the current capital of Azerbaijan, walk around the walled medieval city, and revel in the intermingling of century-old mansions and modern towers. Beyond Baku and Sheki, witness the mud volcanoes of Qobustan and the age-old petroglyphs around Qobustan. Farther away are Xinaliq and Laza, two exemplary Caucasus villages.
Kyrgyzstan (up 24%)
Kyrgyzstan’s foremost tourist destination is the bizarrely un-freezable, endorheic Lake Issyk-Kol, circumscribed by Tian Shan Mountains of eastern Kyrgyzstan. Or trek and glimpse the awe-inspiring scenery of rock-dammed Lake Ala-Kol. Trekking on horses is one of the best ways to hit the Kyrgyz countryside. Do not forget Osh, now the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, where Silk Road traders negotiated deals as early as 8th century.
Tunisia (up 14.2%)
The Bardo National Museum in Tunis houses the world’s best collection of Roman mosaics and wide-ranging collection of antiquities from Ancient Greece, Tunisia, and the Islamic period. 20 km away from the hustle and bustle of the capital Tunis is the marina and the bijou beaches of Sidi Bou Said. Or visit Djerba, the largest island of North Africa for soft sandy beaches and the enchanting, cobblestoned town of the Houmt Souq market. Or relish the silent, shifting sands of Ksar Ghilane, the Oasis in the Sahara in Southern Tunisia.
Montenegro (up 13.9%)
Montenegro combines the best of sapphire beaches of Croatia, the spectacular peaks of Switzerland, the yawning canyons of Colorado, and the charming old towns of Greece, all combined with a superlative Mediterranean climate. Among the most popular attractions in Montenegro are the Bay of Kotor that offers historic towns circumscribing limestone cliffs. Or drive through Tara Canyon or the Lovcen National Park Drive and enjoy the iconic island views at Sveti Stefan.