According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland, New Zealand, Morocco are the world’s top three most friendly destinations for tourists. I have visited all three over the years, and experienced genuine warmth in all three, including the warmth of Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon thermal pool, pictured here.
The top three countries least friendly to tourists are Bolivia, Venezuela and the Russian Federation. The rest of the top ten worst destinations are Kuwait, Latvia, Iran, Pakistan, Slovak Republic, Bulgaria and Mongolia. The WEF rated the attitude of the locals toward foreign visitors, but does not explain whether the unfriendly welcomes are cultural, political or both. Does it really matter? Why go where you and your tourist dollars are not appreciated and where the visa process also can be unfriendly, and where there might not be hotels or restaurants with real appeal?
So here’s the rest of the top good guys – Macedonia, Austria, Senegal, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, and Burkino Faso. Sadly for me, the United States didn’t make the top ten. And surprisingly, neither did destinations with a long history of tourism, such as Switzerland, and Israel, home of three of the world’s most important religions. So it goes.
According to Australia’s national newspaper, The Australian, Yemen, Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Malta, Singapore and Ireland all achieved higher scores than Australia.
Perhaps this international tourism survey will spur some friendly competition between neighbors to become more friendly to tourists. Austria vs. Germany. New Zealand vs. Australia. Portugal vs. Spain. Ireland vs. Scotland. Senegal vs. Namibia. Bosnia and Herzogovina on the most friendly list vs. neighbors Latvia, Slovak Republic and Bulgaria on the last friendly list.