header for A Decade of Global travel destination popularity

The world’s travel preferences are constantly shifting and evolving, with people travelling further afield to more exotic destinations and often shunning more traditional holiday destinations.

We’ve used data from Google Trends, which shows the popularity of search queries over time, to analyse how some of the world’s most popular destinations have grown and fallen in popularity over the last decade.

There are some interesting results, but overall we can see that holidaymakers are definitely considering travelling further afield, to places that they perhaps wouldn’t have considered a few years ago, such as South East Asia, India and the Middle East, while the likes of France and Spain have both suffered a decline in interest (of course, they’re still among the most popular destinations in the world though).

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How has destination interest changed between 2009 and 2019?

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The research showed that when it came to cities, the Hungarian capital of Budapest came out on top, with an 87.20% increase in search traffic, which also reflects tourism figures, which have risen by 39.58% (according to Euromonitor). 

Tourism has been on the increase to Budapest ever since the end of the Cold War but has seen particular growth in the last decade due to far more direct flights to Ferenc Liszt International Airport, big tourism drives by the government and the fact that it’s one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit. 

In terms of countries, the Philippines enjoyed the greatest increase in searcher interest over ten years, with 170.45%.

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How has destination interest changed between 2009 and 2019?

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When we look at the changing popularity around country destinations, the Philippines has enjoyed the greatest increase in searcher interest over the past decade, with a 170.45% increase.

While the 1990s saw many avoid the country due to political issues, the Philippines bounced back in the early 2010s with visitor numbers doubling in the last decade.

On the other hand, tourism to Egypt has declined massively in the last ten years, and it was also the country with the biggest ten-year decline (84.8%).

This can be put down to terrorism, as well as the impact of revolutions and protests on the region, however, recent figures suggest that the country may be on the road to recovery, with visitors slowly starting to make their way back.


We analysed the 100 most visited cities from 2018 and 2008 (according to Euromonitor) and 50 most visited countries from 2017 and 2007 (according to the World Tourism Organization). 

Note: Some cities and countries had to be excluded due to lack of Google Trends data.

We also chose to exclude Mecca as while this does rank among the most visited cities in the world, this is largely due to the Hajj pilgrimage, rather than people visiting for holidays.

We then used Google Trends to analyse the search term ‘[Country Name] Holidays’ for each (for example ‘London Holidays’ or ‘USA Holidays’).

For each country, we counted the total worldwide search interest for each of the last ten years, before calculating the % difference from 2009 to 2018.

Note: While Kolkata came out as the city with the biggest popularity increase, we chose to exclude this on the basis that searches for that term will have seen a significant increase due to the city changing its name from Calcutta fairly recently.

Full Data & Sources can be found below:

1. Search Data: https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=UK

2. 2018 Most Visited Countries: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284419876

3. 2008 Most Visited Countries: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284413720

4. 2018 Most Visited Cities: http://go.euromonitor.com/rs/805-KOK-719/images/wpTop100CitiesEN_Final.pdf? rel="nofollow"

5. 2008 Most Visited Cities: https://blog.euromonitor.com/euromonitor-internationals-top-city-destination-ranking/

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