Map details which countries are welcoming to foreigners

The World Economic Forum has ranked all countries by openness to foreigners for some surprising -- and not-so-surprising -- results.

At the Washington Post, Max Fisher has created an interesting map out of a World Economic Forum report on travel and tourism competitiveness. (Click on the map above for the full picture.)

The color coding of the map is based on a question the WEF asked countries from late 2011 to late 2012: “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?” The question was meant to help “measure the extent to which a country and society are open to tourism and foreign visitors.”

There are only a few trends in countries' openness to foreigners that jump out immediately upon looking at the map: First, Asian countries (with the exception of Thailand) aren't very welcoming -- which, to travelers who have been to Asia, isn't super surprising. Within Asia, southeast Asian countries tend to be more welcoming than, say, China or Korea, which fits with both regions' reputations.

Second, Western European countries are very welcoming, but Eastern European countries not so much -- again, probably not a surprise to those who have been to both regions.

But then, there are other areas of the map that are more confounding, such as South America, which is a mix of more open countries like Brazil and countries less welcoming to visitors such as Venezuela.

Here are the 15 countries most welcoming to foreigners in order:

  1. Iceland
  2. New Zealand
  3. Morocco
  4. Macedonia
  5. Austria
  6. Senegal
  7. Portugal
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  9. Ireland
  10. Burkina Faso
  11. Barbados
  12. Canada
  13. Thailand
  14. Mali
  15. United Arab Emirates

This group has six European countries and three West African countries. The two Arabic countries on the list are far apart geographically.

And the 15 countries least welcoming to foreigners (starting with least welcoming) are:

  1. Bolivia
  2. Venezuela
  3. Russian Federation
  4. Kuwait
  5. Latvia
  6. Iran
  7. Pakistan
  8. Slovak Republic
  9. Bulgaria
  10. Mongolia
  11. China
  12. South Korea
  13. Saudi Arabia
  14. Ukraine
  15. Trinidad and Tobago

The main trends here are that four of these countries are Eastern European/Baltic, three (or four, if you count Pakistan) are Middle East, and three are East Asian.

Fisher tried to think of some coherent theories that bound the friendly and unfriendly countries. He discounts tourism rates -- the U.S. and China have relatively high rates of foreign tourism but aren't that open to foreign visitors. He also knocks GDP out as an explanation: While Western European countries are wealthy, so is unwelcoming South Korea. He settles upon nationalism as a tentative unifying theory -- with nationalistic countries being less open to foreigners.

What do you think? Do you think the survey (on page 455 of the report) is hitting upon something? Or do you think that these generalities don't play out in real life? For instance, did you visit Asian or Eastern Europe and find it welcoming, while a Western European country left you cold? Or would you say your experience agrees with these results?

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via: The Washington Post

photo: screenshot of map by Max Fisher/Washington Post

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