While some countries thrive on tourism, there are others who would prefer nothing more than for travellers to stay away. With budget airlines on the rise, travel has become more accessible than ever before and more and more people are taking advantage of this each day. Travel vlogging and blogging has become a realistic income option for a lot of people and the allure of this lifestyle displayed online has a domino effect, encouraging viewers and readers to step outside of their daily routine and explore.
In theory, that’s amazing! A world of travellers is a world where we understand one another and respect different cultures and ways of life. A global community is absolutely something to be celebrated. But what happens when the global community is all flooding to a few major cities around the world?
Cities boasting bucket list attractions and famous works of architecture have become overhyped and overrun by tourists in recent years. Social media leads multiple travellers to the exact same spots to get the perfect photos to post and suddenly places that were cities of love, romance and artistry become too much to even set foot in.
On the flip side, these 15 countries would be more than happy if you chose to stay away and hang out with the massive crowds of tourists elsewhere. Be it internal conflict, cultural laws or high security, these places have no desire to see an increase in tourism at any time in the near future and they’ve got an entry process to prove it.
25 Not Welcome: Somalia
Most countries are warning citizens against travel to Somalia for safety reasons, but even if you decided you wanted to go, it’s no easy feat.
Your visa needs to be obtained in advance at the Embassy of Somali Republic in Kenya which, for most people isn’t exactly a hop, skip and a jump away.
Payment is challenging here with no bank machines and credit cards not being accepted; you must carry the local currency with you. If the current situation in the country isn’t enough to keep travellers out, the challenges of attempting a trip here will surely deter them instead.
24 Not Welcome: Algeria
While it is possible to obtain a visa for travel to Algeria, there are quite a few requirements that must be met. In addition to your application, passport with six months validity and two passport photos, you must also provide a copy of your accommodation confirmation AND an invitation.
If you’re visiting friends or family they must formally invite you into the country and along with this invitation, you must provide proof of their residency/citizenship in Algeria.
If you’re booking with a hotel, they are also capable of issuing an invitation to you. The key is that you must have your accommodations booked in advance of even applying for a visa, which for some people is too much uncertainty to bother with.
23 Not Welcome: Saudi Arabia
Citizens of Qatar and Israel are not permitted to enter the country and having a passport stamp from Israel might become an issue upon entry as well. Even a stamp from Jordan or Egypt near borders with Israel can result in being denied entry. Citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman do not need a visa for entry but all other countries do.
Your visa application has to be sponsored by a group, organization or citizen of Saudi Arabia. Laws are strict for women here and women arriving in the country must be met by a male relative or male sponsor at the airport.
Photography of religious sites is also illegal which, in the age of instagrammable travel, is a major turn off for some.
22 Not Welcome: Bhutan
Bhutan requires that you obtain a visa by booking a travel package for the duration of your stay. This package includes a daily rate that covers all costs (food, accommodation, transport) during your trip. As such, your hotel and flights need to be booked well in advance of your intended travel date.
Electronics such as computers and cameras are also required to be registered with Bhutan’s Department of Revenue and Customs when you arrive and they will verify the devices again when you leave. Some might go through the process for the beautiful scenery of this country, but the restrictions here are significant and are potentially intimidating to some tourists.
21 Not Welcome: Kiribati
Kiribati does not require a visa for stays of less than 28 days but there is a fee of AU $20 (national currency is the Australian Dollar) charged at the airport on departure.
Strict laws deter travellers here with penalties for wearing revealing swimsuits and export of certain items.
However if you can overlook these things, Kiribati offers aquatic life, lively locals quaint guest houses. As they do not welcome hordes of tourists, your journey here is sure to be unique and will leave you with plenty of stories to share back home.
20 Not Welcome: Russia
Russia has made it an extreme undertaking to visit the country, but it can be done if you’re willing to jump through all the hoops. You must apply for a visa in advance of arrival, and the best way to do so is through a travel agent if you plan to stay in commercial accommodations. The travel agent in your country will work with Russian travel agents who are the “sponsors” to your visit.
If you are visiting friends or family and staying in a private dwelling, they will need to send you a formal invitation that they obtain from the Russian Visa and Passport Office.
All guests must register that they have arrived in the country within 72 hours. Hotels will do this for you, but if you’re staying in private accommodations your host or yourself will need to ensure this is done.
Be aware that you need to declare valuables and currency on arrival at the airport - failure to do so can result in them being confiscated when you depart.
19 Not Welcome: Turkmenistan
It’s an extensive process to enter Turkmenistan from North America. You will need to apply for a visa and have a letter of invitation from whomever you intend to visit. If you’re traveling solo, you’ll need to make arrangements with a registered travel agency in Turkmenistan who is authorized to issue an invitation to you (this likely means you’ll need to hop onto a tour).
Completion of a migration card is required on arrival and you need to have this card on you at all times, returning it to officials when you are leaving the country. Visits of longer than three days must also be registered with authorities. Failure to do either of these things can results in fines, departure delays or in cases of failure to register, arrest.
18 Not Welcome: Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan has a lot to offer travellers who are seeking a destination off the beaten path, but they’ll need to put in the leg work to enjoy the beauty of this land. A visa is required, so apply well in advance of your intended arrival.
Uzbekistan travel overland can mean you’ll cross into neighbouring countries and back again, so for this reason, it’s recommended you obtain a multi-entry visa. Surxondaryo Province has differing visa requirements from the country itself. Do your research if you intend to visit this region so your travel plans are not delayed.
17 Not Welcome: Angola
Angola is known for being difficult to enter, but to some the process is part of the excitement of travel. Canadians require a visa and a Canadian Criminal Clearance Certificate which must be obtained in Canada before your departure. It must be submitted in English and in Portuguese.
It’s important to square away the visa before traveling because it is not available on arrival in Angola and you can be arrested or deported without it.
Proof of a return flight or a ticket out of the country is also required on entry. Plus, All people entering Angola must present proof of receiving the Yellow Fever Vaccination.
16 Not Welcome: China
China is a destination on most people’s bucket list, largely due to the allure of wonders like the Great Wall. But in order to embark on the trip of your dreams, you’ll first need to get your ducks in a row. A visa is required for entry to China, and if you intend to visit Hong Kong or Macao and then return to the mainland, your visa needs to allow for multiple entries.
Travellers must register their arrival with public security within 24 hours, but if you’re staying at a hotel this will likely be part of the check-in process.
Many flights stop over in Beijing, and for this it’s usually okay not to have obtained a Chinese visa, you’ll simply need to be prepared to show your documentation for the final destination instead. Traveling to Tibet is a bit more restricted and needs to be done as part of an organized tour group.
15 Not Welcome: Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is another country that requires a letter of invitation in order to obtain a tourist visa, but like most others, this can be done through a travel agency if you’re not visiting anyone specific.
It’s important for travellers to note that having traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh will cause you to be banned from entering Azerbaijan. Even a stamp from Armenia may induce questions, but in most cases should not result in being denied entry. Keep your identification on you at all times and if you intend to drive, make sure you have an international driver’s license.
14 Not Welcome: Nauru
A country off the beaten path of most travellers, it’s unlikely you were planning to visit here anyways so their lack of interest in tourists probably isn’t an issue for you.
However, if you find yourself here you’ll need to obtain a tourist visa in addition to your passport, and have proof of your accommodations as well as your flight home. Renting a car is made challenging because you’ll need a Nauru driver’s license to drive here. This can be obtained for AU $70.00.
13 Not Welcome: Syria
It is extremely difficult to even get a flight to or from Syria at this point, and it’s generally not advisable to travel here. Remaining in the country with a visa for more than 14 days requires you to register with the Syrian Immigration and Passports Office before the 14 days are up. Having stamps from Israel, Jordan or Egypt (near border with Israel) can lead to being denied entry.
In general Syria requires travellers to be very cautious as situations can change rapidly.
12 Not Welcome: Eritrea
Never heard of it? That’s okay, you’re not alone. Eritrea is a country that keeps to itself, with media restrictions that have been equated to the likes of NK. Even after obtaining a visa for travel here, you can only visit the capital of Asmara. Travel outside the city requires further applications.
There are many travel advisories for Eritrea, deterring travellers, however the capital of Asmara is considered to be relatively stable.
11 Not Welcome: NK
While it might be easy to get a visa for your visit to NK, you can only do so as part of an official tour group. Once you book a tour, the group you book with takes care of the application process in most cases, but if you’re thinking of traveling independently or applying for a visa yourself, think again.
Independent travel is not permitted in NK at all and it’s important to note that your visa is only valid for entry on the date specified. If you do not arrive on the date your visa indicates you will not be admitted to the country.
These restrictions might be enough to make some travellers reconsider but if not, the lack of access to social media and media in general could be the kicker.
Professional journalists or media outlets of any kind are not permitted, as well as anyone traveling with a US, South Korean or Malaysian passport.
10 Tourists Messed up: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is exceptionally popular among travellers with the city anticipating roughly 18 million tourists per year. The red light district, canals and unique shopping districts like Negen Straatjes create an atmosphere unlike any other, so it’s no wonder the allure of the Dutch capital continues to capture attention worldwide. But residents of the city are none too pleased by the staggering growth in popularity.
With the narrow city streets jam packed with eager visitors, the city government has taken new measures in 2018 to crack down on tourists looking for a party.
Airbnb has been banned from some of the most sought after neighbourhoods in the city as well as raising the tourist tax to 7%.
9 Tourists Messed up: Reykjavik, Iceland
It’s only been a few years since Iceland really jumped on the tourist radar and since then it’s taken off at astounding speed. Cheap flights and stunning volcanic landscapes are drawing visitors from all over the globe at alarming rates.
Unfortunately, it seems the country itself can’t support the growing number of tourists. Reports of damage to vegetation and fungi near major tourist attractions like Geysir and Gullfoss are cause for concern, and in the capital of Reykjavik the government is set to begin implementing stricter rules regarding Airbnb.
According to The Reykjavik Grapevine, Airbnb accounts for 30% of accommodation revenue in the country, but many apartment owners are not legally registering their rental units as businesses, and so the government is missing out on money that could be put back into the city while simultaneously driving the prices of long term rentals sky high.
8 Tourists Messed up: Santorini, Greece
The island of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades is truly a piece of paradise. Quaint villages, Caldera cruises and Greek sunsets are a few of the many reasons vacationers are drawn here. While stunning, the growing problem of overcrowding during tourist peak seasons is reason to consider planning your next Greek getaway on a different island.
Santorini is famous for it’s sunset in Oia, with unobstructed views of the horizon and the orange sun sinking into the sea. But how romantic is it to witness this sunset with thousands of other tourists pressed close together around you while you’re vying for a spot?
Following sunset, the streets of Oia are as packed as a subway car at rush hour. Probably not exactly the quiet island holiday most people have in mind. But the island does thrive on tourism so it’s bit of a give and take.
7 Tourists Messed up: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Thailand has always been a backpackers paradise, especially for young University graduates who are on tight budgets but eager for adventure.
It was only a matter of time before overtourism became an issue and in 2018 the Thai authorities began implementing measures to protect the beauty of their country.
Maya Bay on the island of Koh Phi Phi has attracted hoards of visitors since it was made famous in the movie “The Beach” in 2000. Whether they were drawn to the gorgeous blue waters or hoped to find Leonardo DiCaprio sunbathing, an influx of tourists here over the last 18 years has left the beach in less than ideal condition.
Thai authorities officially closed it to the public on June 1st this year and it will remain closed for the foreseeable future in an attempt to let it’s marine life regenerate from the upset caused by the 5000 visitors a day.
6 Tourists Messed up: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a prime vacation spot with it’s exciting night life, beautiful beaches and delightful food options. But the Spanish residents and authorities are no longer delighted with the throngs of tourists that are taking over the city.
It’s become an increasingly unwelcoming city to visit according to recent reports. Tourist buses have been held up by protestors and anti-tourist posters have sprung up around the city. Hotels have seen a dramatic decrease in business and revenue.
It seems that while residents may be tired of tourists, the city itself depends on the tourism industry in many ways.
A rebranding of Barcelona is said to be on the horizon to attract new visitors.
5 Tourists Messed up: Venice, Italy
The floating city is one of romance, canals, good food and beautiful architecture. Historical sites like Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco attract roughly 20 million tourists each year.
But the narrow streets over run with crowds in the summer months have lead to strict guidelines being implemented. New hotels are not permitted to open in the city centre to preserve its historic allure and stop added tourist traffic. Additionally, a locals first police has been implemented on water buses.
City officials are also considering putting rules in place that would prohibit tourists from sitting on the steps of churches and historical buildings to rest and eat, with fines of 50 to 500 Euros if the law is passed.
If you’ve ever visited Venice, you’ll know that not being allowed to sit on the steps of buildings to eat your food or rest for a minute will drastically impact a trip to the city.
4 Tourists Messed up: Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, a high altitude tourist attraction, is one of the main reasons people are drawn to visiting Peru in the first place. But it’s popularity has lead to concern for the preservation of the citadel. As of July 1, 2017 tourists have a time limit for their visit to Machu Picchu with the option to buy a ticket for 6 am to midday, or midday to 5:30 pm in the hopes that this would discourage anyone from lingering too long and creating massive crowds.
Travel companies are also attempting to divert traffic from the Inca Trail, which requires a permit to hike, to the Quarry Trail. A longer hike to the site, the Quarry Trail has been lesser traveled in the past and will hopefully help to spread out traffic by increasing its popularity.
3 Tourists Messed up: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is arguably the most notable site in Cambodia and travellers seek it out for it’s peaceful sunrises and sunsets. In recent years however, an influx of tourism has erased the peacefulness of a visit here and replaced it with flashing cameras, backpacks and a lack of personal space.
In 2017 a rule was put in place that allowed a maximum of 300 visitors at a time to the hill at Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunsets, while also encouraging guests to go to different areas for the spectacle instead.
With concern about damage to the temple being the major factor in the decision, it seems likely that news of the overcrowding may deter tourists anyways and encourage them to seek out the lesser known temples Cambodia has to offer.
2 Tourists Messed up: Boracay, Philippines
Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines has famously been quoted in the last few months for calling the popular tourist destination of Boracay “a cesspool”.
Citing overcrowding and environment neglect as the key issues, the island was officially closed to the public on April 26th of 2018 for redevelopment.
Six months later, the island has reopened much to the excitement of locals who depend on tourism for their incomes. The cleanup of the island has lead to better beaches and management of waste disposal, leading to a safe and more enjoyable vacation destination for all.
1 Tourists Messed up: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef has long been a major attraction that draws visitors from far and wide who are willing to take the plunge and discover the magical coral world beneath the ocean’s surface. But have the years of love caused irreparable damage? Some would say they have.
Too much traffic has lead to reef damage through water pollution, trash/debris and breakage of coral. The biggest problem of all for the reef though is climate change, and high water temperatures have caused coral bleaching in recent years. The bleaching can also lead to the death of the coral; it’s in question how much longer this site will be in existence and this short timeline is sparking some travellers into action to visit while they still have the chance.