Getting the Best Piste for Your Money

We’re halfway through the 2017-18 ski season in the Northern Hemisphere and the mountains are calling (in part to help shed some of the extra Christmas kilograms).

One thing that’s clear for those looking at taking some time off on the slopes;¬†skiing is a costly sport. However, with lift tickets nearing the ‚ā¨200 mark for a day on the slopes, some resorts (predominately those in the United States) are taking that expense to an entirely new level.

How do you measure value for money at a ski resort?

Snow quality is definitely important. So is nightlife (for us Brits, anyway). Though I decided to take a fully quantitate approach measuring three different metrics; value of lift pass based on skiable area, value of lift pass based on vertical elevation, and finally the piste to lift ratio.

Methodology has compiled a regularly updated list of almost 5500 ski resorts around the world. They details key information about each resort, from piste lengths by difficulty to the price of a lift pass.

Using this dataset I extracted data from the top 50 largest resorts by piste length (between 600 and 136 kilometres) for the analysis below.


Lift pass prices

Rank lift pass cost Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR)
1 Beaver Creek North America ‚ā¨157.00
2 Snowmass North America ‚ā¨141.00
2 Vail North America ‚ā¨141.00
4 Steamboat North America ‚ā¨137.00
5 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00
6 Park City North America ‚ā¨121.00
7 Winter Park Resort North America ‚ā¨116.00
8 Big Sky Resort North America ‚ā¨112.00
9 Whistler Blackcomb North America ‚ā¨92.00
10 Zermatt/Breuil-Cervinia/Valtournenche – Matterhorn Europe ‚ā¨78.00

Full table.

The¬†Beaver Creek lift pass is the most expensive by price in our list at ‚ā¨157. The cheapest day lift pass can be found in¬†Espace Lumi√®re ‚Äď Pra Loup/Val d‚ÄôAllos, France for only¬†‚ā¨39 with 180km of skiable pistes.

9 of the top 10 resorts by lift pass are located in the United States. At the other end of the scale, 8 of the top 10 cheapest resorts for daily lift passes can be found in France.

Lift pass value per piste kilometre

Les 3 Vall√©es has the largest skiable area in my top 50, 600km for a daily lift price of¬†‚ā¨52 though you’d be hard pressed to cover a tenth of that in a day.

Cost per skiable km by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

A lift pass, on average, costs ‚ā¨0.37 per skiable kilometre for the 50 resorts covered (‚ā¨0.65 in US,¬†‚ā¨0.25 in Europe)

Cost per km rank Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Total piste Length (km) Cost per km
1 Les Portes du Soleil – Morzine/Avoriaz/Les Gets/Ch√Ętel/Morgins/Champ√©ry Europe ‚ā¨52.00 580 ‚ā¨0.09
2 Les 3 Vall√©es – Val Thorens/Les Menuires/M√©ribel/Courchevel Europe ‚ā¨61.00 600 ‚ā¨0.10
3 Via Lattea – Sestriere/Sauze d’Oulx/San Sicario/Claviere/Montgen√®vre Europe ‚ā¨48.00 400 ‚ā¨0.12
48 Steamboat North America ‚ā¨137.00 165 ‚ā¨0.83
49 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00 153 ‚ā¨0.89
50 Beaver Creek North America ‚ā¨157.00 150 ‚ā¨1.05

View full table.

The best value lift pass by available skiable area is¬†Les Portes du Soleil, France where a day pass costs¬†‚ā¨52 and covers 580km (‚ā¨0.09 per kilometre). In contrast, in Beaver Creek, North America a day pass will cost¬†‚ā¨157.00 covering only 150km of pistes (‚ā¨1.05 per kilometre). Of course I’m sure there will be many off-piste hikers willing to put in some legwork to make up for this.

Lift pass value per vertical metre

The resorts in the Europe, on average, have more vertical descent than those in the US; 1553 metres versus 1144 metres (though the US resorts are located at a higher altitude; 3186 metres versus 2751 metres).Lift cost per vertical meter (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

To go from top to bottom of all 50 resorts on the list you’ll pay and average cost ‚ā¨0.05 per metre (lift pass / elevation change).

Rank elevation change cost per m Resort Region Lift day ticket (EUR) Elevation change (m) Lift cost per vertical m
1 Vail North America ‚ā¨141.00 976 ‚ā¨0.14
1 Breckenridge North America ‚ā¨136.00 988 ‚ā¨0.14
50 Alpe d’Huez Europe ‚ā¨52.50 2205 ‚ā¨0.02
50 Les 2 Alpes Europe ‚ā¨50.00 2243 ‚ā¨0.02

Full table.

Using this metric, the cheapest resorts per vertical metre are¬†Les 2 Alpes and¬†Alpe d’Huez in France at¬†‚ā¨0.02 per metre.

The most expensive? All in North America.¬†Breckenridge and¬†Vail in the US have the highest cost per metre at¬†‚ā¨0.14

Ski area covered by each lift

Waiting for a lift is a real pain. In some resorts I’ve heard people standing in line for over an hour (I’m looking at you Chamonix). This led me to wonder; which resorts the best lift to piste ratio?

In Les Portes du Soleil, France, there are a whopping 170 lifts to cover the skiable area of 580km (each lift covers 3.41km). Lake Louise has just 7 lifts covering 139km of pistes (each lift covers 19.86km).

Ski area km per lift by resort (Jan 2018)

Download chart.

On average, one lift exists for every 5.8 km in the 50 resorts covered, though there are outliers.

Rank ski area km per lift Resort Region Total piste Length (km) Ski lifts Ski area km per lift
1 Gröden (Val Gardena) Europe 175 79 2.22
2 Espace Diamant – Les Saisies/Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe/Praz sur Arly/Flumet/Crest-Voland Europe 192 79 2.43
3 La Plagne (Paradiski) Europe 225 91 2.47
48 Snowmass North America 237 17 13.94
49 Fernie North America 142 9 15.78
50 Lake Louise North America 139 7 19.86

View full table.

Gröden (Val Gardena), Italy, has almost 1 lift for every 2km of pistes. Lake Louise, ranked in last place for lift coverage, has just 1 lift for every 20km of pistes. Like value, North American resorts are, mostly, the worst for lift coverage.


Based on marked pistes, European resorts offer significantly better value for money (‚ā¨0.25 p/km) than their counterparts in the United States (‚ā¨0.65 p/km).

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Good News! The World Is Becoming More Peaceful

Last year we covered the most dangerous cities by homicide rates — the stats were particularly scary.

Since writing that post I’ve stumbled across the Global Peace Index created by the aptly named, Institute for Economics and Peace.

Homicide rate obviously has a clear relationship to peace, and is one of the 22 factors considered for each country listed in the Global Peace Index.

While we probably all have a favourite peaceful destination to escape the stress of everyday life; where do these countries fall on the Global Peace Index?


The Global Peace Index (GPI) gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation. Factors are both internal such as levels of violence and crime within the country and external such as military expenditure and wars. The GPI uses 22 different factors to rank individual countries based on these themes.

Countries covered by the GPI must either have a population of more than 1 million or a land area greater than 20,000 square kilometers.

The first GPI was released in 2008 (129 countries considered) with the latest data compiled covering 2017 (163 countries considered).


The world was more peaceful in 2017 than 2016


Download chart.

Perhaps surprisingly we live in a more peaceful world than 2016. The overall GPI scores fell by 0.22% between 2016 and 2017. 90 countries are now more peaceful, compared to 72 that are less, and one, Czech Republic, that had no change in GPI score. On average, the world has become 6% less peaceful since 2008.

But the world is less peaceful than in 2008


Download chart.

98 countries became less peaceful between 2008 and 2017 while 31 became more peaceful (hurrah!). The countries with the biggest changes in GPI were Chad which has become 19% more peaceful, on-the-other-hand, Syria has become 47% more dangerous.

And the most peaceful countries in 2017 were…


Download chart.

Iceland, is by far the most peaceful country in the world according to the GPI. This year it had the lowest index score of 1.111. All of the top 10 countries have GPI values between 1.1 and 1.5 (the lower the score, the higher the level of peace). Compare that to the 10 least peaceful countries where scores range from 3.0 to 4.0.

The most peaceful countries GPI scores have remained stable


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Generally scores of the 2017 top ten most peaceful countries have remained fairly static fluctuating plus and minus 0.1 points over the time period (indicating stability within these countries).

Some countries have shot up the GPI rankings


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Examining countries by GPI ranking tells a different story. Whilst Iceland and New Zealand have been incredibly consistent in places one and two respectively, other countries have not been so predictable.

Take Portugal. In recent years the countries GPI has gone from 1.385 in 2008 to 1.258 in 2017 —¬† a 10.1% increase in peacefulness. This has catapulted the country up the GPI rankings from 14/137 position in 2008 to 3/162 in the latest 2017 rankings. Much of this can be attributed to financial reforms put in place by the country, and significant strides in lowering violence and terror with greater political stability and economic promise.

Notably, Switzerland has typically ranked in the top 10 since 2008. However, in 2009, 2010 and 2011 the country ranked 11/143, 18/158 and 16/153 by GPI rank respectively. Much of this can be attributed to the factors that go into the GPI rankings that relate to military and arms trading. Countries are negatively scored on these factors. Given Switzerland has compulsory military service and exports more weapons, relative to its size, than many other countries the GPI scores become slightly when compared to the countries otherwise socially peaceful nature.

And the least peaceful countries in 2017 were…


Download chart.

Sadly, it is clear to see just how bad the situation is in war torn Syria. Put alongside Iraq (3.556 GPI score) and Afghanistan (3.567), with a GPI score of 3.814 it is clear the country could in no way be considered peaceful.

Ukraine, the only European country ranked 154/163 in the 2017 GPI is closely followed by Russia placed 151/163. There have been small scale conflicts on the borders between the two countries likely contributing heavily to their high GPI scores.

You might be shocked, or not, to learn that the United States ranks 114/163 in 2017 on the GPI. Much of this can again be answered by the factors that go into making up the index such as military spending of which the United States spends more than any other country.

Scores show these countries are getting less peaceful


Download chart.

The 2017 list of least peaceful cities have seen their GPI scores worsen significantly since 2008. Half of the top 5 have become less peaceful by over one index point — representing an increase of more than 50% in each case.


Download chart.

Most of the rankings show a slight uptick year-on-year, however this can be attributed to more countries being considered by the GPI (137 in 2008, 163 in 200(). You can see two very clear things on this graph; Syria and Ukraine’s falls down the rankings.

In 2011, what became known as the¬†Arab Spring revolts toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President¬†Hosni Mubarak. In the months following many of Syria’s population tried to similarly overthrow the countries president,¬†Bashar al-Assad , resulting in a civil war that is still being waged, began in Syria with rebels. This has resulted in untold tragedy and is the reason Syria slipped from a peaceful(ish) 65/163 in 2007 to the least peaceful country on earth in 2017.

Similarly, in 2014 the Ukrainian revolution began when a series of riots erupted in the countries capital, Kiev. Since then much of the countries eastern border with Russia has been annexed with tensions running high with neighbouring Russia. In turn, the revolution and the ensuing instability has led to Ukraine being ranked 80/137 in 2008 to 154/163 in 2017 on the GPI.


The GPI ranking has been criticised by some. Like any index, the GPI should be considered on the factors that go into creating it. For instance, take Switzerland discussed in this post, which has its ranking heavily skewed by military spending and arms trades despite being a very peaceful nation when accounting for all other factors. As such it would be good to compare the raw data points for each of the contributing factors (e.g. total military spending, homicide rate, etc) in any future analysis.


Iceland is currently the most peaceful city in the world according to the Global Peace Index compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

$3000 Per Night For A Hotel Room!?!?

With the year coming to an end you might be thinking about booking getaways for 2018. Perhaps you’re jetting off after Christmas to escape the cold or for some relaxation after the holiday period.

In many cases, price is key consideration when choosing a hotel. For me, the price and location are the biggest factors to consider when travelling on business — I’m not too bothered about luxury. However, on vacation I’m willing to pay slightly more for a outdoor pool that I can laze around.

In major cities, hotels can be eye-wateringly expensive, even in the off-seasons. Which left me wondering; where are the most expensive city hotels?


Mastercard ranked 132 cities around the world according to the number of international overnight visitors they welcomed in 2016 in their Global Destinations Cities Index 2016. Overnight visitors are defined as those arriving from outside of the country and who stay at least one night in the destination city. The top 10 cities ranked by number of overnight visitors is as follows:

Rank overnight visitors City Overnight visitors 2016
1 Bangkok, Thailand 21,470,000
2 London, UK 19,880,000
3 Paris, France 18,030,000
4 Dubai, UAE 15,270,000
5 New York City, USA 12,750,000
6 Singapore, Singapore 12,110,000
7 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 12,020,000
8 Istanbul, Turkey 11,950,000
9 Tokyo, Japan 11,700,000
10 Seoul, South Korea 10,200,000

Download table.

Using this list of 10 cities, I turned to to search for the 10 most expensive hotels in each of these cities for the dates: Saturday 13th January – Saturday 20th January 2018. I selected these dates as they are generally considered to be off-season, therefore demand should be relatively low for most of the 10 destinations (thus, lower prices). Prices are reported per night based on one standard room for two people.


Most expensive hotels


Download chart.

The top 7 most expensive hotels in these 10 cities all cost more than $1000 per night during the off-season. My assumption is most of these hotels would cost well above $1000 in the peak-seasons. As an example, take during the Spring school holiday period in the UK. The most expensive hotel in January, the¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences costing $2,777 per night, would cost at the time of writing $3,934 per night for a stay between¬†Saturday 17th February – Saturday 24 February 2018 — over $1000 more!

Most expensive hotels by city


Download chart.

The¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences at $2,777 per night places Dubai as the number one city by most expensive hotel. Paris’s Nolinski hotel at $1,630 per night and Tokyo’s TRUNK hotel at $1,493 per night place these cities second and third on the list of most expensive hotels by city respectively.

In contrast, in Kuala Lumpur, the most expensive hotel in the city, the Grand Service Suite at Times Square, costs $406 per night, significantly less than the top 3 cities previously covered.

Average cost of top 10 hotels by city


Download chart.

There is a wide spread in cost to staying in the best hotels a city has to offer. In Dubai, the average cost to stay at one of the top 10 most expensive will cost you $917.40 per night.

If you’re considering Asia as your next luxury destinations the prices are much more favourable for high-end hotels. The average hotel in Seoul, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur costs less than an average of $325 per night — about the average price for a mid-range hotel in many of the other cities considered, Paris or London for example.


As discussed, the time of year greatly affects demand and therefore prices charged for rooms by hotels. Having access to a dataset showing historic price changes over time for each hotel would make for a very interesting analysis. As would adding more hotels, not just the top 10 most expensive in each city.


Dubai has some of the most expensive high-end hotels. Of the top 10 visited cities, Dubai’s¬†Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Royal Residences costing $2,777 per night in the off-season is the most expensive hotel I could find.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

The Only Thing Tougher Than Climbing Everest is Raising The Funds

Over the summer I climbed a few mountains; Mount Snowden in Wales, UK (1,085m) and Mount Diablo in California, USA (1,173 m). These are the 1273rd and 1268th highest peaks in the world respectively.

While I’m happy with these expeditions they do not compare with even the top 100 peaks, all of which reach 7,000m above sea-level.

On my summits the biggest cost was the car park (¬£10 per day at Snowden, if I recall correctly). However, these sums are insignificant to climbing some of the world’s highest mountains where costs can easily run into tens-of-thousands-of-dollars.

Which left me wondering; how much does it cost to summit the highest mountains?


To get a wide spread of mountains, to account for geographic cost differences, I decided to compare costs of climbing the Seven Summits. For those unfamiliar, the Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge. The seven mountains that make up the series are:

Overall rank Mountain Meters Feet Continent
1 Mount Everest 8,848 29,029 Asia
235 Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 19,341 Africa
134 Aconcagua 6,962 22,841 South America
247 Mount Elbrus 5,642 18,510 Europe
213 Denali 6,168 20,236 North America
303 Puncak Jaya 4,884 16,024 Oceania
301 Vinson Massif 4,892 16,050 Antartica

You’ll see the only mountain in the top 100 highest peaks worldwide in this list is Everest. Over half of the top 100 peaks are found in the Himalayas, the mountain range where Everest is located.

Climbing costs can vary significantly person-to-person. One of the largest costs climbers incur are climbing guide fees. Generally, the more experienced guides are, the more climbers will pay for their services. I used the cheapest guide prices taken from two American guide services advertising climbs for the Seven Summits in 2017.

Climb times offered by guides also vary too. For time, I used an average figure calculated using the high and low climb estimates provided by the two guide services.


Guide fees to climb the Seven Summits


Download chart.

Guide fees rank Mountain Guide fees (USD) Meters
7 Aconcagua $4,700.00 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $5,000.00 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $5,000.00 5,642
4 Denali $8,500.00 6,168
3 Puncak Jaya $27,000.00 4,884
2 Vinson Massif $42,000.00 4,892
1 Mount Everest $65,000.00 8,848

Download table.

Some of these climbs are seen by elite climbers as hikes. For example, trips to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, are advertised to the masses as a safe and relatively easy climb. The low climbing fees, starting from $5000, make it even more attractive for those entering the world of mountaineering. Compare that to Everest, where prices start from $65,000, or the price of premium car!

To climb all Seven Summits at the prices listed above would cost you $157,200 in guide fees alone.

Cost per day to climb the Seven Summits

Cost-per-day-to-climb-the-Seven-Summits-20172Download chart.

Cost per day rank Mountain Cost per day USD Days ave Meters
7 Aconcagua $213.64 22 6,962
6 Mount Elbrus $357.14 14 5,642
5 Denali $386.36 22 6168
4 Mount Kilimanjaro $434.78 11.5 5,895
3 Mount Everest $896.55 72.5 8,848
2 Puncak Jaya $1,687.50 16 4,884
1 Vinson Massif $2,153.85 19.5 4,892

Download table.

While an Everest ascent and descent of 8,848 meters takes on average 72.5 days to complete, the cost to climb is significantly cheaper at $896.55 per day than both Puncak Jaya and Vinson Massif costing $1,687.50 per day and $2,153.85 per day respectively.

In contrast, Aconcagua is the cheapest to climb at $213.64 per day, over 90% cheaper than the most expensive Vinson Massif.

Cost per meter to climb the Seven Summits


Download chart.

Rank cost per meter Mountain Cost per meter USD Meters
7 Aconcagua $0.68 6,962
6 Mount Kilimanjaro $0.85 5,895
5 Mount Elbrus $0.89 5,642
4 Denali $1.38 6168
3 Puncak Jaya $5.53 4884
2 Mount Everest $7.35 8848
1 Vinson Massif $8.59 4892

Download table.

Again, and surprising to me, Everest is not the most expensive mountain to summit. When looking at cost per meter Everest will set you back $7.35 per vertical meter, however, Vinson Massif, almost half the height of Everest will cost $8.59 per vertical meter! Whilst Everest is remote, Vinson Massif in Antartica is significantly harder to get to and has a less developed climbing industry resulting in the higher costs.

Similarly, Puncak Jaya, the smallest summit by height of all seven (4,884m) is the third most expensive costing $5.53 per vertical meter.


This post only considered costs listed by two climbing guide companies. There are large variations in actual costs charged by guide companies. Take Mount Everest for example, where some report guide costs between $30,000 – $85,000. It would be interesting to compare summit success per company by costs charged to help understand if more money buys success (or better guides).


As expected, guide fees to climb Everest are most expensive of all seven summits costing around $65,000 with expeditions taking on average 72.5 days. However, Vinson Massif, the second smallest mountain in the Seven Summit series at 4,892m has the second highest guide fees, $42,000, which means it is the most expensive when analysing the expeditions based on cost per day ($2,153.85) and cost per meter ($8.59).


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

London Has Enough Attractions to Keep You Busy For 16 Years

Have you ever visited a city and thought; 3/5/7 days is not enough?

Leaflets line the lobbies of hotels the world over advertising the wide range of activities you can sign up for, from elephant trekking in South East Asia to bungee jumps in New Zealand.

Often many of us will pick new destinations for holidays based on the activities on offer.

Which cities will keep you most busy based on your interests?


I used Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking (tourist arrivals) to identify the top 100 cities for tourism in 2015.

Using this list of 100, I then turned to Tripadvisor to identify number of activity options in each city. Tripadvisor splits activities into the following 20 categories:

  • Sights and landmarks
  • Transportation
  • Nature and parks
  • Shopping
  • Water and amusement parks
  • Tours
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Outdoor activities
  • Museums
  • Food and drink
  • Fun and games
  • Nightlife
  • Boat tours and water sports
  • Casinos and gambling
  • Concerts and shows
  • Spas and wellness
  • Classes and workshops
  • Traveller resources
  • Events
  • Day trips


Top cities (all activities)


Interactive map.

Rank total activities City & Country Activities Total
1 London, UK 5809
2 Tokyo, Japan 5021
3 Moscow, Russia 4375
4 New York City, US 4342
5 Rome, Italy 4159
6 Paris, France 3732
7 Prague, Czech Republic 3239
8 Barcelona, Spain 3203
9 St Petersburg, Russia 3158
10 Istanbul, Turkey 2990

Full list.

London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total. That is enough to keep you busy for almost 16 years (5809 / 365).

Europe is one of the best regions to visit for spread of activities, 8 of the top 10 cities in the top 10 are all European.

Top cities (nightlife)


Interactive map.

Rank nightlife activities City & Country Nightlife total
1 London, UK 1280
2 Madrid, Spain 913
3 New York City, US 857
4 Barcelona, Spain 776
5 Prague, Czech Republic 648
6 Berlin, Germany 600
7 Rome, Italy 565
8 Istanbul, Turkey 440
9 Paris, France 429
10 Milan, Italy 376

Full list.

9 of the top 10 cities for nightlife attractions are all European with London leading the way with 1280 options — over 300 more than 2nd placed Madrid.

Top cities (shopping)


Interactive map.

Rank shopping activities City & Country Shopping
1 New York City, US 796
2 London, UK 718
3 Paris, France 646
4 Tokyo, Japan 645
5 Istanbul, Turkey 530
6 Shanghai, China 506
7 Bangkok, Thailand 457
8 Rome, Italy 427
9 Prague, Czech Republic 386
10 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 386

Full list.

Unsurprisingly the “fashion capitals”, New York (769), London (718), Paris (646) have the most shopping options available to visitors.

Top cities (museums)


Interactive map.

Rank museums attractions City & Country Museums
1 Moscow, Russia 594
2 St Petersburg, Russia 430
3 Tokyo, Japan 390
4 Seoul, South Korea 330
5 Prague, Czech Republic 317
6 London, UK 314
7 Beijing, China 284
8 Istanbul, Turkey 283
9 New York City, US 266
10 Shanghai, China 261

Full list.

Russia, a country with a very rich history has a large number of museums compared to other major cities. Moscow (594) and St Petersburg (430) are placed 1st and 2nd for count of museums.

2¬†cities in Euromonitor’s Top 100 list have no museums: Halong (Vietnam) and Palau Pinang (Malaysia).

Top cities (food & drink)


Interactive map.

Food & drink rank City & Country Food & Drink
1 Rome, Italy 211
2 Hanoi, Vietnam 188
3 London, UK 170
4 Barcelona, Spain 166
5 Paris, France 159
6 Florence, Italy 134
7 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 112
8 Tokyo, Japan 106
9 Prague, Czech Republic 106
10 Madrid, Spain 102

Full list.

Rome tops the list for Food & Drink options. Parisians will be very disappointed to see themselves in 4th place, behind London in 3rd.

Top cities (nature & parks)


Interactive map.

Nature & park ranks City & Country Nature & Parks
1 Tokyo, Japan 378
2 Beijing, China 273
3 Moscow, Russia 187
4 London, UK 179
5 Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China 141
6 St Petersburg, Russia 133
7 Taipei, Taiwan 126
8 Shanghai, China 125
9 New York City, US 109
10 Sydney, Australia 106

Full list.

The greenest city in the world is highly debatable (how do you measure “green”?). Tripadvisor’s count does not account for area of green space, rather the number of distinct green spaces and parks. Tokyo, a city with a very dense population, does not have many very large parks but seemingly lots of very small green spaces.

Top cities (landmarks)


Interactive map.

Rank sights activities City & Country Sights & Landmarks
1 Tokyo, Japan 1851
2 Moscow, Russia 1300
3 St Petersburg, Russia 1030
4 Rome, Italy 894
5 Kyoto, Japan 799
6 Beijing, China 757
7 London, UK 693
8 Osaka, Japan 614
9 Paris, France 505
10 Milan, Italy 451

Full list.

I was not going to include this category as Sights and Landmarks is a very broad categorisation. However I decided to include with an explanation. Older cities will likely have lots of historic landmarks, but this category has no distinction. Likewise, a “sight” can be very subjective. As such, I am not sure there is too much we can draw from this category.


Tripadvisor’s count of activities offers a general overview of the most popular activities within a city. If you’re like me, you’ll browse¬†Tripadvisor’s “Top 10” activities before visiting a new city. However, the activities listed by Tripadvisor is not exhaustive. Many activities, especially those of a very specialist nature, are likely to be excluded. If I could identify a better way to classify and count activities in each city the accuracy of the results could be improved.


London has the most activities for visitors 5809, nightlife activities account for 1280 of the total.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Tuvalu Welcomes Just 1000 Tourists Per Year. France, 83 Million

Modern day travel has become incredibly easy. Even comparing it to 15 years ago; more routes are available than ever before, travel times have reduced, and costs have typically dropped significantly.

The turn-of-phrase¬†‘small world‘ is now a common one¬†(although its use may be in decline). In 2014, there were 1.133 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide, with a growth of 4.3% as compared to 1.087 billion in 2013.

Yet parts of the world are still inaccessible through your budget carrier — and some still unexplored. But where are they?


Every year the UN World Tourism Organisation publishes a report titled “Tourism Highlights“. For this post I used the 2015 version (data reported is for 2013). The report contains tourism statistics for 217 countries, including inbound tourist arrivals and receipts. Using this data I was able to identify the countries that report the fewest tourists.


UNWTO inbound tourists 2013

countries inbound tourists chart

Full map.

Did you know? The 3 countries that received the most tourists in 2013 were: 1. France (83.6 mil arrivals), 2. United States (69.9), and 3. Spain (60.6).

Full ranking.

UNWTO least touristed regions

Ave Tourists p/Destination by region

Download chart.

If you want to steer clear of tourist traps and other travellers¬†your best bet would be a holiday somewhere in Africa… or Bangladesh.

UNWTO least touristed countries

Inbound Tourists 2013 Country (<100k Inbound Tourists)

Download chart.

-Rank (tourists) Destination Inbound Tourists 2013
19 Rep. Moldova 96000
18 Dominica 86000
17 Sierra Leone 81000
16 Timor-Leste 79000
15 St. Vincent & Gren. 72000
14 San Marino 71000
13 Anguilla 69000
12 Djibouti 63000
11 Liechtenstein 60000
10 Guinea 56000
9 Tonga 51000
8 Micronesia FSM 42000
7 Solomon Is 24000
6 American Samoa 20000
5 Montserrat 7000
4 Niue 7000
3 Kiribati 6000
2 Marshall Is 5000
1 Tuvalu 1000

Full list.

These 19 countries were all reported to receive less than 100k inbound tourists in 2013.

There were 91 countries in 2013 that received less than 1 million inbound tourists.

Did you know? The 3 countries that received the fewest tourists in 2013 were: 191. Kiribati (6000 arrivals), 192. Marshall Islands (5000), 193. Tuvalu (1000).


This post was inspired by Gunnar Garfors, who in 2015 compiled a list of the least touristed countries from a wide array of sources beyond only the UNWTO.

His list of 25 countries is very similar, with some notable differences in the bottom 3 countries: 23. Tuvalu (1200 inbound tourists), 24. Somalia (400), 25. Nauru (160).


According to the UNWTO the 3 countries that have the lowest number of inbound tourists in 2014 were: 191. Kiribiti (6000 inbound tourists), 192. Marshall Islands (5000), 193. Tuvalu (1000)


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Sorry, No Hotels Available. The Cities With The Fewest Hotels

When a big event rolls into town, many cities can struggle to cope with the demand for hotel rooms.

Airbnb and other holiday rental sites have alleviated such problems, although in many cases prices can be significantly higher than normal for guests.

Which cities have the fewest number of hotels for visiting tourists?


I used Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking (tourist arrivals) to identify the top 100 cities for tourism in 2015.

Using this list of 100, I then turned to Tripadvisor to identify number of accommodation options in each city. Tripadvisor splits accommodation options into 4 types:

  • Hotels
  • B&B and Inns
  • Speciality Lodging
  • Holiday Rentals

Note, the “holiday rental” category does not include rentals from popular sites like Airbnb and other equivalents which will result in a lower number reported for this category than is correct.


Top 10 Destinations by Tourist Arrivals (2015)

Rank 2015 Arrivals City Country 2014 Arrivals (‘000) 2015 Arrivals (‘000) Y-o-YGrowth 2014-2015
1 Hong Kong Hong Kong, China 27,770.50 26,686.00 3.91%
2 Bangkok Thailand 17,031.70 18,734.90 -10.00%
3 London UK 17,404.00 18,580.00 -6.76%
4 Singapore Singapore 16,795.60 16,869.40 -0.44%
5 Paris France 15,058.10 15,023.00 0.23%
6 Macau Macau 14,566.00 14,308.50 1.77%
7 Dubai United Arab Emirates 13,200.00 14,200.00 -7.58%
8 Istanbul Turkey 11,843.00 12,414.60 -4.83%
9 New York City US 12,230.00 12,300.00 -0.57%
10 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 11,629.60 12,153.00 -4.50%

Full table.

Hong Kong welcomed 28 million tourists in 2015, 10 million more than the second touristed city, Bangkok (17 million). It also saw the fastest growth (4%) for arrivals in 2015 (top 10 only). Jerba, Tunisia saw the biggest increase in tourists (top 100) (17%), whilst Osaka, Japan saw the biggest decrease in tourist arrivals (top 100) (-52%).

Top 100 Destinations by Tourist Arrivals (2015)


Download chart.

To put things into perspective, while all cities in the top 10 received more than 10 million arrivals the majority of cities received less than 5 million (67).


Interactive map.

The top destinations in the top 100 fall primarily in Europe and Asia.

Top 10 cities by number of accommodation options

Rank Accommodation count City Country count Hotels count B&B count Specialty Lodging count Holiday Rentals total accommodation
1 Orlando US 335 2 17 15,796 16150
2 Rome Italy 1291 3763 1097 8549 14700
3 London UK 1088 574 837 7,654 10153
4 Beijing China 6449 1292 925 44 8710
5 Paris France 1801 129 157 6,265 8352
6 Shanghai China 4999 728 292 62 6081
7 Mugla Turkey 1238 912 954 2,792 5896
8 Mexico City Mexico 1691 1796 1299 964 5750
9 Phuket Thailand 754 997 849 3064 5664
10 Barcelona Spain 521 326 764 3,984 5595

Full list.

Orlando does not have the most hotels (Beijing does, 6449) but it does have the highest number of accommodation options, 16150 in total (most of which are classified as holiday rentals by TripAdvisor).

The top 4 cities with the most hotels are all in China: Beijing (6449), Shanghai (4999), Guangzhou (3394), Shenzhen (2754).

World largest hotels by rooms

Rank Name Country City Rooms/suites
1 First World Hotel Malaysia Genting Highlands 7,351
2 The Venetian and The Palazzo United States Las Vegas 7,117
3 MGM Grand Las Vegas + The Signature United States Las Vegas 6,852
4 CityCenter United States Las Vegas 6,790
5 Sands Cotai Central Macau Macau 6,000
6 Izmailovo Hotel Russia Moscow 5,000
7 Wynn Las Vegas + Encore Las Vegas United States Las Vegas 4,750
8 Mandalay Bay + Delano + Four Seasons United States Las Vegas 4,426
9 Luxor Las Vegas United States Las Vegas 4,407
10 Ambassador City Jomtien Thailand Pattaya 4,219

Full list.

The First World Hotel in Malaysia holds the crown for the largest hotel by number of rooms (7351). 6 of the top 10 largest hotels by number of rooms can be found in Las Vegas.

Fewest accommodation options per tourist

Arrivals / accom rank City Country Accommodation options total Arrivals 2015 total Arrivals per accom
1 Macau Macau 110 14,308,500 130,077
2 Edirne Turkey 58 3,190,400 55,007
3 Pulau Pinang Malaysia 53 2,774,500 52,349
4 Burgas Bulgaria 97 2,842,800 29,307
5 Manama Bahrain 234 6,413,200 27,407
6 Hong Kong Hong Kong, China 1469 26,686,000 18,166
7 Singapore Singapore 963 16,869,400 17,518
8 Doha Qatar 169 2,930,000 17,337
9 Antalya Turkey 749 10,868,700 14,511
10 Mecca Saudi Arabia 516 7,175,200 13,905

Full list.

As an average figure, each accommodation option (hotel, B&B, etc) in Macau must serve 130,077 tourists over a year. Assuming each stays for an average of 7 days and the majority of those bookings are 1 room for 2 people, that means there must at least 1,251 rooms at each accommodation option ((130077/2)/52), assuming maximum efficiency. After further research, I found official figures (2015) that stated there are 29,725 rooms spread across 73 hotels in Macau (note, the above calculation factors in other accommodation options Рnot just hotels).

Compare that to Orlando, ranked 100 for arrivals / accommodation, where there is 1 accommodation option to every 309 tourists. Tourists have significantly more choice here.


I used number of accommodation options, not rooms for these calculations. Cities like Macau and Las Vegas tend to have “mega-hotels” of 3000+ rooms each. It would be more accurate to calculate scarcity of hotel rooms against tourists, as opposed to individual hotels (and other accommodation options) as has been used¬†in this post.

As discussed in the Methodology section of this post, the data does not include rentals from popular sites like Airbnb and other equivalents resulting in a lower numbers reported for this category than actually available. If it was possible to get an accurate count of these rentals this would improve my current workings.


Each hotel (and other accommodation type) must serve 130,077 tourists in Macau.

Get the Data

Get all the data used in this blog post on Google Sheets.

Cairo, the Cheapest City to Live in 2017

I’m always looking for new places to call home. Cost of living is an important consideration.

Having lived in London, Hong Kong and San Francisco I know how disheartening it is to watch a significant portion of income go on rent — especially when friends from other cities wonder why anyone would ever pay $3000 a month in rent.

When travelling on business or vacation the cost of living variations can be even more astounding. According to Nomadlist (Feb 2017) you can live comfortably $600 a month in Chaing Mai, Thailand.

How has cost of living changed over the last few years around the world? Are there any cities you can live cheaply and comfortably, without being cut off from the outside world?


I pulled data from Numbeo’s Cost of Living rankings, starting 2009. Numbeo collates data on cost of living – down to the cost of milk – from cities around the world. They also collate datasets for other localised metrics including property prices and air quality.

The index uses New York as the index value (New York = 100). The index values therefore represent changes in cost of living against the current cost of living in New York. I used a subset of¬†Numbeo’s Cost of Living rankings using cities that only had data for every year from 2017 to 2011. The Cost of Living index does not account for rental costs.


Most expensive cities 2017

2017 Top 10 Most Expensive (rank changes 2011 - 2017)

Download chart.

You can see there has been some movement into the top 10 in recent years — most notably Reykjavik, New York, Seattle and San Francisco all becoming more expensive.

Rekyavik has gone from 42nd to 4th most expensive in just over 5 years. Similarly, San Francisco has moved from 57th to 8th over the same period for cost of living ranking.

Most expensive cities 2011 vs. 2017

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Geneva, Switzerland 1 3.72 -10.92
Zurich, Switzerland 2 -0.95 -13.89
Stavanger, Norway 3 5.28 -33.36
Reykjavik, Iceland 4 14.6 18.28
Oslo, Norway 5 10.95 -42.33
Bergen, Norway 6 1.78 -38.06
New York, NY, United States 7 0 0.00
San Francisco, CA, United States 8 -4.22 11.06
Tokyo, Japan 9 5.88 -9.06
Seattle, WA, United States 10 7.32 -3.19

Full list.

In real terms, 7 of the 10 cities (in the top 10) have seen cost of living fall vs. New York in the period 2011 to 2017. In Oslo it has fallen by over 42 points! Only San Francisco and Reykjavik increased in price by over 11 and 18 points respectively over the 7 year period.

Between 2016 and 2017 cost of living actually decreased vs. New York. Oslo, whilst seeing the biggest drop between 2011 Р2017 of 42 points, saw a large increase of cost of living between 2016 Р2017 of 11 points.

Cheapest cities 2017

2017 Top 10 cheapest rank changes 2011 2017

Download chart.

Overall, the cheapest cities have remained fairly static over the years — up until¬†2017 Indian cities were at the bottom list (until Cairo in 2017).

Over the last few year Cairo has seen a turbulent change in cost of living compared to New York. It finds itself at the bottom of our list (144th) comparing 2017 to 2011.

Most notably, Baku in Azerbaijan has seen a massive fall in cost of living compared to New York falling from 83rd in 2015 to 136th / 144 in 2017.

Cheapest cities 2011 vs 2017

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Delhi, India 135 0.45 -7.63
Baku, Azerbaijan 136 -2.12 -38.72
Kiev, Ukraine 137 -2.05 -22.7
Pune, India 138 0.65 -1.84
Bangalore, India 139 1.16 -5.89
Chennai, India 140 1.98 -4.46
Kolkata, India 141 1.73 -5.9
Ahmedabad, India 142 3.26 -11.07
Hyderabad, India 143 0 -7.98
Cairo, Egypt 144 -14.97 -28.56

Full list.

In real terms between 2011 and 2017 cost of living in Baku, Azerbaijan has fallen by just short of 39 points compared to New York (most of this change happened in 2015). Cairo saw the largest drop in index value between 2016 and 2017, by -15 points.

Biggest changes in cost of living vs New York

City Country 2017 rank 2016 – 2017 2011 – 2017
Perth, Australia 15 0.65 -44.42
Oslo, Norway 5 10.95 -42.33
Turin, Italy 70 -3.11 -40.49
Baku, Azerbaijan 136 -2.12 -38.72
Dublin, Ireland 33 -0.62 -38.48
Bergen, Norway 6 1.78 -38.06
Vienna, Austria 65 2.72 -37.33
Brasilia, Brazil 80 15.37 -37.26
Amsterdam, Netherlands 35 1.72 -36.19
Copenhagen, Denmark 12 -1.32 -35.91

Full list.

Whilst Baku has seen a significant drop in cost of living versus New York, some of the most expensive cities have seen the biggest drops in cost of living between 2011 – 2017 — showing just how expensive they once were! In Perth, Oslo and Turin index values have all dropped by over 40 points. Many non-US cities have¬†all seen drops in cost of living vs New York.


Numbeo only provides index values for each of the cities against a New York baseline. It would be good to compare actual cost of living rather than just index values to make the numbers more quantifiable.


Cairo, Egypt is a major city with one of the lowest costs of living.


  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

In Madagascar Tourists Spend Over 10 Times The Countries Average Income

In most cities and top tourist destinations areas have emerged selling variety of wares to tourists.

A boom in tourism can change the fate of local populations.

Chinese travellers spent a¬†record $165 billion USD abroad in 2014 ‚Äď an exceptional 27%¬†increase over 2013 ($36 billion USD). Second are US travellers who spent a total of $111 billion USD abroad in 2014.

Which countries benefit the most from tourist spending?


Every year the UN World Tourism Organisation publishes a report titled ‚ÄúTourism Highlights“. For this post I used the 2015 version (data reported is for 2013). The report contains tourism statistics for 217 countries, including inbound tourist arrivals and receipts.

In 2013 Gallup posted data on median incomes for countries which I used to compare against tourism receipts.

Similarly, the World Bank publishes yearly data on GDP by country (I used data from 2014).


Receipts total per tourist

revenue per tourist usd map

Full size map.

Some countries, as expected, make very little per tourist. Take the Democratic Republic of Congo which earns on average $5.24 USD per international tourist. Others, strangely, make a very large amount per tourist. International tourists in Belarus, using UNWTO figures, spend over $5,700 USD each during their trip!

Did you know? The countries that earn the most per international tourist are: 1. Belarus ($5,773 USD), 2. Luxembourg ($5,131 USD), 3. Australia ($4,897 USD).

Did you know? The countries that earn the least per international tourist are: 168. Lesotho ($121.88 USD), 169. Swaziland ($13.43 USD), 170. Democratic Republic of Congo ($5.24 USD).

Full rankings.

Yearly incomes

median per capita income worldwide usd map

Full size map.

Did you know? The countries with the highest median salaries per capita are: 1. Norway ($19,308 USD), 2. Sweden ($18,632 USD), 3. Luxembourg ($18,418 USD).

Did you know? The countries with the lowest median salaries per capita are: 128. Mali ($165 USD), 129. Burundi ($129 USD), 130. Liberia ($118 USD).

Full rankings.

Income vs. tourist receipts

median income per capita income per tourist

Download chart.

Most countries (83) have higher median salaries compared to the average a tourist would spend in the country, unsurprisingly. However, in 31 countries receipts per tourist actually exceed median incomes. In 7 of these 31 countries receipts per tourist exceed median income per capita by over $1,000 USD, and 2 by over $2,000 USD (India and Madagascar).

10 countries with biggest difference in median income and tourist revenue

Download chart.

rank Destination Revenue p/tourist (USD) Median Income p/Capita (USD) Median Income – Tourist revenue (USD) Per Tourist Revenue as % of Median Income
1 Madagascar 2,928.57 205 (2,723.57) 1428.57%
2 Mali 1,253.52 165 (1,088.52) 759.71%
3 Tanzania 1,768.58 384 (1,384.58) 460.57%
4 India 2,640.21 616 (2,024.21) 428.61%
5 Burkina Faso 701.83 168 (533.83) 417.76%
6 Benin 818.18 237 (581.18) 345.22%
7 Uganda 978.44 296 (682.44) 330.55%
8 Sierra Leone 728.40 233 (495.40) 312.62%
9 Angola 1,898.46 720 (1,178.46) 263.68%
10 Yemen, Rep. 949.49 400 (549.49) 237.37%

Full table.

Madagascar receives a staggering 1428.57% more from tourists than the median income of its residents — in dollar terms a difference of $2,732.57 USD.

GDP figures

gdp per capita map

Full size map.

Did you know? The countries with the highest GDP per capita are: 1. Luxembourg ($113,727 USD), 2. Norway ($102,832 USD), 3. Qatar ($96,077 USD)

Did you know? The countries with the lowest GDP per capita are: 185. Central African Republic ($326 USD), 186. Burundi ($259 USD), 187. Malawi ($240 USD).

Full rankings.

GDP vs. tourist receipts

gdp per capita income per tourist

Download chart.

As with income, most countries have a positive difference between GDP per capita and income per tourist. However, 10 countries have a negative difference — that is, tourists spend more than the countries GDP per capita.

10 countries with biggest difference in gdp and tourist revenue

Download chart.

rank Destination Revenue p/tourist (USD) GDP p/Capita (USD) GDP – Tourist revenue (USD) Per tourist Revenue as % of GDP
1 Madagascar 2,928.57 462.97 (2,465.60) 632.56%
2 Tanzania 1,768.58 910.38 (858.20) 194.27%
3 Mali 1,253.52 659.52 (594.00) 190.07%
4 India 2,640.21 1,455.10 (1,185.11) 181.45%
5 Ethiopia 911.89 503.90 (407.99) 180.97%
6 Haiti 1,352.38 810.33 (542.05) 166.89%
7 Uganda 978.44 674.34 (304.10) 145.10%
8 Solomon Islands 2,541.67 1,889.99 (651.67) 134.48%
9 Niger 471.54 418.49 (53.05) 112.68%
10 Moldova 2,354.17 2,243.98 (110.19) 104.91%

Full table.

These are the 10 countries that receive more per tourist than their GDP per capita. Comparing tourism revenue as a percentage of GDP per capita Madagascar comes out with a difference of 632.56%!


I realise that using median income against tourism receipts is not a truly representative metric. Many countries have significant poverty and large gaps between incomes, all of which would be hugely beneficial context to add into the comparison.


In 2013, Madagascar welcomed 198,000 tourists¬†who spent on average $2,928.57 USD each. That’s 633% more than their GDP per capita and 1429% more than the median income of their residents.

Get the data

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.

Passport Power Rank 2017

Wow. What a year it has been since we put together the 2016 version of our Passport Power Rank.

The UK left the EU, potentially losing visa-free travel privileges within the area (and the distinctive red passport).

America voted in Donald Trump who swiftly tried to bring in a ridiculous travel ban, build a wall, …. I could go on.

How have these events effected a¬†citizen’s ability to travel visa-free? Here is the¬†2017 version of our¬†Passport Power Rank.


Each year Henley & Partners¬†publishes a ‚ÄúVisa Restriction Index‚ÄĚ,¬†a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy.

Points are awarded to countries for the number of destinations that offer visa-free travel to their citizens. e-Visas are treated the same as visas on arrival. Where the conditions for obtaining an e-visa are straightforward (fee, return ticket, hotel reservation), a visa-free point was assigned.

There are 219 destination countries (territories) in total. The maximum attainable score is 218 (points are not assigned for a national traveling to their own country).


Best and worst passports for travel


Full-size map.

 Rank 2017 Country Visa free destinations 2017
1 Germany 176
2 Sweden 175
3 Italy 174
3 Spain 174
3 Finland 174
3 United States 174
3 Denmark 174
8 France 173
8 United Kingdom 173
8 Belgium 173
8 Netherlands 173
8 Singapore 173
8 Austria 173
8 Norway 173
8 Luxembourg 173

 Rank 2017 Country Visa free destinations 2017
185 Lebanon 37
185 South Sudan 37
185 Kosovo 37
185 Sudan 37
185 Ethiopia 37
190 Palestine, State of 36
190 Nepal 36
192 Yemen 35
192 Eritrea 35
194 Libya 33
195 Somalia 30
196 Syrian Arab Republic 29
197 Pakistan 28
198 Iraq 27
199 Afghanistan 24

Full rankings.

Germany tops the list for a fourth year in a row with 176 destinations accessible without a visa for passport holders (out of a possible 219). Down one from 2016.

Interestingly, various EU Member States have varying visa free travel to non-EU countries.

Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan prop up the table, each with visa-free access to fewer than 30 countries.

Year-on-year changes

Total of Visa Free Relationships by Year 2013 - 2017

Download chart.

Visa-free travel between countries increased again between 2016 and 2017 – albeit at a much slower rate then 2015 and 2016 – by 55 extra visa-free destinations in total.

2016-2017 change in visa-free destinations count

86 passports had visa-free travel increased, 70 decreased, and 43 had no change at all.

Biggest visa restriction changes in 2017

Change in visa free destinations (top 8 2017)

Download chart.

The biggest mover was Marshall Islands which gained an additional 33 destinations its holders can travel to without the requiring a visa. Peru (+32 visa-free destinations), Micronesia (+31), Soloman Islands (+30), Kiribati (+30) and Tuvalu were the other signifiant movers.

At the other end of the scale was Jordan (-4), Ghana (-5) and Dijibouti (-5) had the amount of countries they could travel to without needing a travel visa decrease. Notably, India (-3), Hong Kong (-2), UK (-2) and France (-2) also saw visa-free travel privileges decrease. Perhaps a sign of things to come for the UK since Brexit.


Visa restrictions can change for a wide variety of reasons: security, political, social, etc. For additional studies it would be to add such context for each country to try and better understand why visa requirements seem to change so frequently.


The German passport is the most powerful allowing visa-free travel to 176 countries. In contrast, Afghani’s can only travel to¬†24 countries without a visa.

Get the data

  1. Data sources + data used in this post.