In 2024, the US stands out as the world’s leading tourism destination.


The World Economic Forum underscores a nation’s robust promotion of natural and cultural resources alongside a strong commitment to sustainability and tourism.

After a tumultuous four years for the travel industry, global tourist arrivals are poised to rebound to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. However, ongoing global travel growth remains uncertain due to challenges such as inflation, climate change, and geopolitical tensions, which continue to affect the sector’s stability.

The Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024, released by the World Economic Forum, identifies countries that have effectively managed risks and maximized their tourism potential. This index evaluates nations based on criteria like safety, travel infrastructure, natural and cultural resources, and sustainability practices.

Spain, Japan (last year’s top performer), France, and Australia emerged in the top tier of this year’s rankings. Notably, the United States claimed the top spot, surpassing global competitors with high scores in business environment, air transport infrastructure, and natural assets. This achievement reflects America’s robust infrastructure, seamless intercity travel, diverse natural and cultural attractions, and traveler-friendly amenities such as city guides and park resources.

Anna Abelson, an adjunct instructor at New York University’s SPS Tisch Center of Hospitality, remarked, “While the US’s diverse landscapes, natural beauty, and cultural richness are obvious reasons for this recognition, its well-developed infrastructure plays a pivotal role in supporting the tourism sector.”

The US’s strategic investment in promoting its diverse landscapes and cultural heritage has contributed significantly to its top ranking. This approach not only attracts visitors but also enhances the country’s economic standing. According to the United States Travel Association’s biannual forecast, international visitors injected $180 billion into the US economy in 2019, generating nearly $2 trillion in economic output. In comparison, France, the world’s most-visited country with 90 million visitors in 2019 (compared to 79.4 million in the US), recorded approximately $61 billion (€56 billion) in tourism revenue that year. Despite a dip during the pandemic, the USTA anticipates visitor levels will rebound by 2025.

The federal government’s extensive support for travel and tourism, particularly in maintaining robust airport infrastructure and regulating the airline industry, underscores America’s commitment to this sector’s growth. However, experts attribute much of the US’s tourism success to its cities’ diversity – both large and small – and their substantial investments in sustainable tourism strategies over the long term.

Major US cities, backed by substantial budgets and dedicated teams, have strategically marketed themselves to international travelers, yielding significant dividends. Taryn Scher, founder of TK Public Relations representing destinations like Greenville, South Carolina, and Macon, Georgia, emphasized, “For decades, cities like [Las] Vegas and New York have proactively promoted their destinations with strong, enduring branding that resonates with consumers. This approach unquestionably drives increased tourism to these cities.”

The US’s broad appeal stems from its diverse array of cities, each offering unique attractions and experiences that cater to varied interests and preferences. From iconic landmarks and cultural festivals to scenic national parks and vibrant urban hubs, the US provides a wealth of options for travelers seeking diverse experiences.

Looking ahead, America’s leadership in tourism is poised to strengthen as it continues to invest in infrastructure, sustainability, and visitor amenities. This strategic focus not only enhances the country’s attractiveness as a travel destination but also bolsters its economic resilience and global standing in the tourism sector.


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