As we look back at the travel landscape of 2019, the year stands out as a significant benchmark—the last full pre-COVID year, offering a baseline for the tourism industry's vibrant pre-pandemic days. It was a year when international travel was unhindered, and beach destinations thrived as top draws for tourists worldwide. In this article, we revisit the sun-drenched shores that captivated millions, examining countries renowned for their coastlines as much as for their rich cultural heritage. From the bustling promenades of France's Côte d'Azur to the iconic sands of Spain and the rugged beauty of Croatia's Dalmatian coast, we explore what made these destinations the zenith of beach holidays in a world yet untouched by the travel restrictions that the following year would bring.
Defining a 'beach destination' can be complex, as many countries, renowned for their coastlines, also celebrate other attractions. This diversity makes them unique, as visitors can indulge in a beach holiday while experiencing the country's other cultural and historical offerings. Let's explore the top 20 countries that, in 2019, captivated travelers not just for their beautiful beaches but also for their multifaceted allure.
Top Beach Destination Countries of 2019:
- France: 217.88 million visitors - Known for its diverse landscapes, including the glamorous French Riviera and serene Mediterranean beaches.
- United States: 165.48 million visitors - Offers a wide array of beach destinations, from the tropical shores of Hawaii to the bustling beaches of Florida.
- China: 162.54 million visitors - While famous for its rich history and culture, China also boasts beautiful coastal regions like Hainan.
- Spain: 126.17 million visitors - Celebrated for its vibrant culture and rich history, and home to popular beaches in Costa Brava and the Balearic Islands.
- Mexico: 97.41 million visitors - Known for its diverse coastline, including famous beach destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
- Italy: 95.40 million visitors - Offers picturesque coastlines such as the Amalfi Coast and the beautiful beaches of Sardinia and Sicily.
- Poland: 88.52 million visitors - While not traditionally known for its beaches, it has charming Baltic Sea coastlines that attract many visitors.
- Hungary: 61.40 million visitors - Known more for its rich history and culture, with Lake Balaton offering a unique beach experience.
- Croatia: 60.02 million visitors - Boasts stunning beaches along its Dalmatian Coast, including famous spots in Dubrovnik and Split.
- Hong Kong SAR, China: 55.91 million visitors - A vibrant city with nearby beautiful beaches like Repulse Bay.
- Turkiye: 51.75 million visitors - Offers a blend of cultural heritage and beautiful Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines.
- United Kingdom: 40.86 million visitors - Known for its historical landmarks, but also home to picturesque coastal towns and beaches.
- Thailand: 39.92 million visitors - Famous for its stunning beaches and islands like Phuket and Koh Samui.
- Germany: 39.56 million visitors - While renowned for its history and culture, Germany also has beautiful beaches along the North and Baltic Seas.
- Macao SAR, China: 39.41 million visitors - A unique blend of cultural heritage and coastal attractions.
- Czechia: 37.20 million visitors - Known for its historic cities, but also has access to river beaches and lakes.
- Greece: 34.01 million visitors - Famous for its ancient history and idyllic islands with stunning beaches like Santorini and Mykonos.
- Denmark: 33.09 million visitors - Offers charming beach towns and coastal landscapes alongside its cultural attractions.
- Canada: 32.43 million visitors - Known for its natural beauty, including coastal regions like the Maritime Provinces.
- Austria: 31.88 million visitors - Primarily celebrated for its cultural heritage and alpine scenery, but also has beautiful lake beaches.
As the sun sets on our journey through the sandy stretches of the world's most visited beaches in 2019, we're reminded of the timeless allure of the coast. Whether it's the cultural tapestry of France, the historic shores of Spain, or the idyllic Italian coastline, each country offers a unique blend of sun, sea, and substance. These destinations, drawing millions to their shores, are not just places on a map but experiences that resonate with the soul of travelers. They stand as testaments to the enduring appeal of the beach as a place of relaxation, adventure, and cultural exchange, beckoning us to explore and enjoy the vast and varied coastlines of our beautiful planet.