A picturesque beach at Funafuti atoll in Tuvalu, the world’s least-visited destination. (Wikipedia pic)

From beaches covered with towels on the Spanish coast to the snaking queue of the Louvre in Paris, there are many destinations that are consistently popular with tourists. Crowds, however, are not only detrimental to the environment and the local population – they also ruin the experience for visitors themselves.

While more and more places are implementing policies to restrict tourist numbers – such as the Philippines, Galápagos Islands, and Marseille calanques – the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has shared a new report highlighting the world’s top 10 destinations least likely to be affected by overtourism.

They are, in fact, the countries with the lowest annual visitor numbers. Note that the international organisation bases its findings on figures for 2019.

What all the destinations have in common is their relative inaccessibility, which logically prevents large numbers of visitors. It’s not so much that there are no airports or connections, but that would-be visitors have to invest time, effort and money in reaching their final destination.

Such is the case for the world’s least-visited country: the Polynesian archipelago of Tuvalu. A round trip from Paris requires a budget of around €3,500 (RM17,695), as there are no direct flights.

The same goes for the Marshall Islands, which can take up to 42 hours, including stopovers, to reach from Europe. In fact, the same could logically be said for the many of the Pacific Ocean destinations that make up this list.

Idyllic seaside village in Auki, the capital of Malaita, part of the Solomon islands archipelago. (Wikipedia pic)

Recently, blogger Johnny Ward – who visited every country in the world between 2007 and 2017 – shared his own list of the world’s least-visited countries. His analysis went even further, highlighting four categories of destination: war zones, hard-to-reach African countries, certain islands in the South Pacific, and totally closed-off states such as North Korea.

Here are the UNWTO’s top 10 least-visited destinations, with visitor numbers as of 2019:

  1. Tuvalu (3,700)
  2. Marshall Islands (6,100)
  3. Niue (10,200)
  4. Kiribati (12,000)
  5. Micronesia (18,000)
  6. Montserrat (19,300)
  7. Solomon Islands (29,000)
  8. São Tomé and Principe (34,900)
  9. Comoros (45,000)
  10. Guinea-Bissau (52,000)