Lame Games and Shocking Travel Hotspots

So a friend was playing some game online where she had to guess the countries with the top tourist arrival numbers. Yeah I know – that makes her seem pretty lame. Now that I think about it, I must be pretty lame too b/c that game actually sounds fun.

She gets most of them, misses a few, the buzzer sounds, and we find out all the shockers in the top fifteen – Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, oh my!

Seriously, wtf’s up with Malaysia being among the world’s top tourist destinations? I’m not just being Amero-centric or Oxi-centric here either. I’ve been around the block a time or two in all parts of the mundo, but I never would have guessed that Malaysia would be in the top 50, much less the top 10.

Although Saudi Arabia surprised me at first, it makes perfect sense after you think about it – the Hajj. That was a bit of a cheat, though, b/c that’s not like normal destination tourism. It’s not like people are saying “Hey kids, where do you want to go for our family vacation this year?” and the munchkins are jumping up and down responding “Saudi Arabia! Saudi Arabia! We want to wear burkhas and watch mommie get flogged for sticking her uncovered hand outside the hotel room door to grab the room service tray without 17 male family members accompanying her. Yay!!!”

The Ukraine was also near the top of the list, but I’m going to skip making fun of that one right now because Kiev is currently a war zone and they’re clearly not making the list again next year, so why rub it in. The only thing I can think of is Black Sea thaw vacations for millions of Russians. But most of those probably don’t think they’re embarking on international tourism, since they used to like own the Ukraine or whatever during their commie heyday.

What’s really interesting, though, is to look at top destination countries by gross tourism receipts. The good ole’ U.S. of A. tops that list, statistically proving that we’re the bestest in the world of ripping tourists off and sucking their pockets and bank accounts dry while they’re here “on holiday” (credit: shamelessly hijacked fact from the 2013 edition of UNWTO Tourism Highlights form the UN World Tourism Organization. If you need to sue me, mail your complaint to Sarah Palin, Wasilla, Alaska, ee eye ee eye oh).