Tourism

4 Emerging Tourism Destinations in 2023

These are our picks of up-and-coming, lesser-known tourism destinations in 2023. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Evgeny Dubinchuk

The global tourism market is forecasted to grow to USD2.2 trillion in size by the end of 2023. This will make it even larger than the global petroleum industry (valued at USD2 trillion) and the automotive sector worldwide (valued at USD2.1 trillion).

This is while tourism has a lower entry threshold than tech-intensive enterprises such as car manufacturing or oil and gas. What is more, hospitality and travel businesses have a quicker return on investment than most other enterprises.

All this has encouraged many governments to foster growth in the local tourism sector.

Of course there are countries with a long-established hospitality sectors readily associated with tourism: Thailand, Greece, or the Bahamas, just to name a few.

But then there are destinations which are not regarded as traditional tourism hotspots, but are trying their best in 2023 to make a name for themselves relying on their unique offerings. This is a list of four such countries that will likely surpass the milestone of ten million arrivals in 2023.

Kyrgyzstan

This little-explored and landlocked country in Central Asia has become popular since the end of the pandemic for outdoors trekking and cycling tours, largely thanks to its unspoiled mountains and lakes and its not-so-busy roads.

Ecotourism seems to be the main driving force for the sector. The Tian Shan mountain range, Ala Archa National Park, and lake Issyk Kul are all popular among those drawn to Kyrgyzstan’s ecotourism.

It also helps that Kyrgyzstan has an acceptable degree of stability, and travelers are generally safe whether they are in the capital Bishkek or somewhere off the beaten track. Over half of annual arrivals are from Kazakhstan, followed by Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union, though Kyrgyzstan has also been finding favor with Chinese, American, German, and British travelers of late.

Georgia

Following the end of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, there was a shift of policy in Tbilisi to distance the country from Russia, and establish strong ties with the West.

Since then, the country has implemented a number of initiatives to attract tourists from the English-speaking world. The country’s main attractions are the historical city of Tbilisi with its unique architecture as well as the city of Batumi on the coast of the Black Sea, where seaside resorts and gambling establishments are numerous.

Whereas Kyrgyzstan is a rising hub of ecotourism in Central Asia, Georgia can be regarded as an emerging center for leisure tourism in the Black Sea region and the Caucasus. Georgia will welcome over ten million visitors in 2023—over three times its own population!

Affordable flights to Georgia are crucial reason for this high number of arrivals. Thankfully some airlines have seen this opportunity. The Hungarian ultra low-cost airline, WizzAir, for instance, has been running flights to and from Georgia and Germany, Poland, and other European states.

Tunisia

The Tunisian tourism industry is not new, as the country used to be well-known among bon vivants and leisure travelers in as early as the 1960s.

The sector, however, experienced a few years of stagnation after the Tunisian revolution of 2020-2011, and then it was dealt another blow with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021. This year, however, the Tunisian tourism is making a comeback.

The arrivals will be well over ten million by the end of 2023. Given its Arabic identity and its post-colonial ties with the Francophone world, the country attracts visitors from two main source markets: the Arab world and the French-speaking nations.
Arabs make up over 50% of arrivals, while up to 15% are Francophone Europeans. One of the main attractions is the capital Tunis—a mixture of the old and the new.

The old core known as the Medina (or the city proper) and the new European-style quarter, Ville Nouvelle, both have enough to keep a visitor occupied for days. Beyond the capital, Tunisia is laden with historical sites and monuments dating back to the days of Carthage, the Islamic period, and the French colonial era.

All that said, Tunisian tourism will have to complete with more traditional destinations such as Morocco and Egypt in achieving its objectives.

The Philippines

The Philippines is yet another up-and-coming tourism hotspot in the ASEAN region in Southeast Asia, though it is faced with tough regional competitors such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and increasingly Vietnam. In fact, there are hardly any ASEAN member states which are not already a tourism hub. Nevertheless, chances are that the Philippines will still register over 10 million arrivals by the end of 2023.

The resort island of Boracay, known for its splendid white sand beaches, palm trees, and tropical partying opportunities, accounts for some 25% of the Filipino tourism industry. The same successful business model is already being implemented in other islands of the Filipino archipelago, including Palawan and Siargao.

Given the tough regional competition, the country’s winning card can be affordability, as the price of most services in the Philippines is lower than even Indonesia or Thailand. Moreover, the sector is capitalizing on the element of novelty. Although the Philippines’ offerings are more-or-less similar to its neighbors, the country’s tourism motto constantly reminds everyone that “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”