Advances in technology, especially air travel, have boosted international travel to an enormous degree in the last 100 years. But some destinations are more popular than others, naturally. In today's Seeker Daily dispatch, we boldly go where no one -- well, very few people -- have gone before.
Moldova, in Eastern Europe, is one of the least-touristy countries on the planet. In 2008, it hit an all-time low of just 7,000 annual visitors. (Consider that, in the U.S., the city of San Francisco alone had 24 million visitors last year.)
Travel agents in Moldova, both of them, have to get creative. In recent years, the country has attempted to re-brand itself as the "road less traveled" in Europe. It's partnered with several non-profits and the U.S. Agency for International Development to aggressively promote its peculiarities and niche industries, like its small wine industry and its dubious collection of relics from the Soviet era.
RELATED: Why Do Tourists Vacation In War Zones?
Over in Africa, the nation of Guinea has been feeling lonesome of late. The country hosted only 33,000 visitors in 2014, a comparatively minuscule number for a nation of 12 million people. Guinea has several PR problems, including a reputation for political instability, poor infrastructure and facilities, and inefficient transportation.
Disease is a major deterrent, as well. The U.S. travel bureau requires visitors to Guinea to get several vaccines before they travel, and even then tourists are at risk from mosquito-borne illnesses including malaria and yellow fever. It also doesn't help that Guinea was home to the most recent Ebola outbreak.
But in terms of proportionally bad tourist numbers, Bangladesh is the undisputed king of unpopular destinations. The country averages about 125,000 tourists per year, relative to a population of more than 159 million. Like Guinea, Bangladesh suffers from an extremely poor public profile -- most headlines coming out of the country concern poverty, political strife and natural disasters. Despite the government's recent "Beautiful Bangladesh" campaign, forecasts are not optimistic.
Keep in mind that these examples represent least-visited destinations relative to overall population. There are, of course, countless more desolate locales on the planet that have trouble retaining residents, never mind tourists. The temptation is to make a Detroit joke at this point, but we're trying to run a classy operation here.
-- Glenn McDonald
Check out Discovery GO!
CNN: International Tourists Hit Record 1.2 Billion in 2015, says UNWTO
The Guardian: How Tourism is Taking Off in Bangladesh
Lonely Planet: Moldova: Embracing its Status as Europe's Least-visited Country