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The cities with the highest number of tourists per square mile in the world

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Phuket is the most densely populated destination in the world with 5,090 tourists per square mile.

Columbus Direct has analysed the number of international visitors there are in some of the world’s most popular places to reveal the number of tourists you’re likely to encounter on your next holiday - you can view the graphic here.

Some key findings:  

  • Phuket, Thailand has the highest number of tourists per square mile at 5,090. With over 9 million visitors each year. - Phuket sees nearly 10x the amount of tourists per square mile than Barcelona, Spain 
  • London receives the second-highest number of international visitors in the world (19,830,000) and sits just under Bangkok for tourists per square mile at 89
  • Palma de Mallorca is the second-most densely populated city due to tourism with 2,918 visitors per square mile each day
  • Bangkok welcomes the highest number of tourists in the world overall at a whopping 20,050,000 - over 10 million more than Phuket. Due to its size, the Thai capital receives just 91 tourists per square mile.

Columbus Direct has analysed the number of international visitors each year in some of the world’s most popular places to reveal the destinations with the highest number of tourists per square mile. Whether you’re looking for the tourist spots full of hustle and bustle, or are interested in exploring the streets like a true local, this graphic will show your next perfect destination. You can see the full research findings here. 

Choosing the perfect city break destination is not always easy, with a variety of climates, landscapes, cuisines and cultures to experience. But what are the most popular locations people are visiting and how many tourists will be within just a square mile of wherever you go?

Whether you want to choose the ultimate tourist destination that is accompanied by the daily buzz of new people exploring the streets or would prefer to visit the cities where you’ll go a little more unnoticed and feel like a local, there is something for everyone in the world’s most popular places to visit.

The destinations with the highest number of tourists per square mile:

Phuket, Thailand takes the crown as the destination with the highest number of tourists per square mile each day, at an overwhelming 5,090 international visitors. Known for having some of the world’s most picturesque beaches, hanging palm trees and lively atmosphere, Phuket offers something for everyone on all budgets, attracting over 9.2 million tourists each year - and with just over 380,000 people living there, it’s clear to see that tourists keep the holiday destination alive. 

This tropical island’s visitors per square mile goes far beyond any other city in the world, with the second-highest location, Palma de Mallorca, holding 2,918 tourists per square mile - which is nearly half of the Thai holiday hotspot. Thailand also holds another beachy location with a high density of international visitors, with Pattaya coming in at third place with 2,762 visitors per square mile. Thailand is one of the most popular countries in South-East Asia for Brits to travel to, so it comes as no surprise that these sandy beach destinations hold the highest number of tourists.

The cities where you’ll feel like a local
On the opposite end of the scale are the cities with the fewest tourists per square mile, for those that want to go on holiday and feel truly immersed in the culture. For this, the top destination is Hong Kong with a more modest 58 visitors per square mile each day. This stunning urban centre, famous for its breathtaking skyscraper views up Victoria Peak, is the ultimate location to escape the tourists and feel like a local.

London ranks second for the fewest number of tourists per square mile each day at 89. However, the UK capital receives the second-highest number of international visitors per year overall, at a whopping 19.8 million tourists, second to Bangkok with over 20 million. It is the enormous size of London, similar to Bangkok, which makes it one of the locations with the fewest number of tourists per square mile.

Stuart Lloyd, Travel Insurance Expert at Columbus Direct says, "It is great to see the popularity of some of the world’s most cultural and historic cities, with millions of tourists travelling across the globe to visit them each year."  

Tourism is hugely important for all major cities across the globe, particularly for those where there is a high density of international visitors per square mile. As for Phuket and Pattaya, it brings these destinations to life and gives them their famous name of being a top holiday location and a place with a lively atmosphere for people to have a good time."

London is the second most visited city in the world overall - it is interesting that despite these enormous visiting figures, it holds one of the fewest tourists per square mile. With a variety of sites to see dotted across our capital, tourists have endless opportunities to explore and feel what it’s like to be a true Londoner.”

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SAS Traffic figures - July 2020