Lonely Planet Writer

The top 10 countries where locals vastly outnumber tourists

If you want to get off the beaten path and feel like a true explorer, consider planning your next trip to one the countries with the lowest tourism density.

Tanzania is a top safari destination. Image by ©Lockenes/Shutterstock

Australian travel company Intrepid has released an Adventure Travel Index, which shines a light on countries where the total visitor arrivals make up just a small percentage of the country’s permanent population, based on World Tourism Organization data. For example, the country with the lowest tourism density is Tanzania, which sees enough tourists to match 2.31% of its population.

Here are the top 10 countries where locals greatly outnumber tourists.

Tanzania (2.31%)

Tanzania sees 1.28 million tourists each year to its 55.6 million locals. While the overall percentage of tourists is low, it actually boasts some pretty incredible attractions for travellers. With Mt Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park and the island paradise of Zanzibar, there’s plenty for travellers to go there.

Simple houses made of straw, wood and bamboo surrounded by greenery in Palembe, Sepik river in Papua New Guinea. Image by ©Michal Knitl/Shutterstock

Papua New Guinea (2.45%)

Papua New Guinea receives 198,000 tourists – just a slim percentage of its eight million locals. However, the country is just a short flight from Australia and offers visitors a chance to get away from the masses and experience a beautiful place with remote mountains and epic cloud forests.

Kenya (2.77%)

With 1.3 million tourists to 48.4 million locals, Kenya joins its neighbour Tanzania in being an excellent safari destination with a low percentage of tourists.

Padar Island in the Komodo National Park in Indonesia. Image by ©aumphotography/Getty Images

Indonesia (4.41%)

The thousands of islands that make up Indonesia lure in 11.5 million people each year, just a small number in comparison to 261 million local. But with metropolitan Jakarta, remote Komodo National Park and vibrant Bali, there are plenty of reasons to visit.

Egypt (5.64%)

With instability in recent years, Egypt saw just 5.4 million tourists to its 95.7 million locals. But tourism is rebounding and travellers are seeking out the incredible destination for its rich history, beaches and more.

Mozambique (5.95%)

The African coastal country is off the tourist track – seeing just 1.7 million tourists to its 28.8 million locals. It’s a popular spot for those who want to explore the beautiful shores and the water beyond.

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, also known as Pink Mosque. Image by ©Alexander Mazurkevich/Shutterstock

Iran (6.16%)

There are only 4.9 million tourists to Iran’s 80 million locals – but those locals are known for being some of the friendliest in the world. The country also has incredible architecture, something that may have some travellers wanting to see it for themselves.

Colombia (8.32%)

The South American country sees only four million tourists for its 48.6 million locals. But it has a Caribbean coast, Amazon rainforests, the Andes mountains and of course, coffee.

A section of the Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil on Nainativu Island in the Jaffna region of Sri Lanka. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Ambal. Image by ©Thomas Wyness/Shutterstock

Sri Lanka (10.22%)

Already viewed as a destination on the rise, Sri Lanka still only sees 2.2 million tourists for its 21.2 million locals. But that could change as travellers take note of its beaches, delicious food and elephant population.

China (10.28%)

While China receives a staggering 141.8 million tourists, it also has a population of more than 1 billion. It also has a vast land area, so you can avoid the crowds (of other tourists at least) by getting off the beaten path.