When it comes to picking a destination for a holiday, there are a number of factors we tend to look for. (Featured image by Klearchos Kapoutsis)
Weather is usually a deciding factor, as is cost and – more often than not – whether or not there is a white sandy beach to lie on.
What we don’t normally take into account is how friendly and welcoming the locals are going to be, but this can have more of an impact than we realise.
Luckily for those looking for somewhere that will roll out the welcome mat, a list of the most tourist-friendly countries in the world has been compiled.
This list has been put together by the World Economic Forum, as part of its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013. So which nations have made the top 10?
With its vibrant cities (such as Dublin, Cork and Galway), stunning countryside and welcoming locals, it’s little wonder the Emerald Isle was ranked the ninth-friendliest country in the world.
Ireland is likely to be even more friendly than usual this weekend, as the country celebrates St Patrick’s Day.
Celebrations, festivals and parades will be taking place all over Ireland in what is probably the world’s most well-known Saint’s Day.
Europe did very well in the rankings, with six countries in the top ten – although the UK was not one of them.
Austria was one of the highest-ranking European countries, claiming a respectable fifth place. It was also marked out by the World Economic Forum as being one of the most competitive tourist nations.
Austria is a popular tourist hotspot during the winter, offering some of the best skiing in Europe and a party atmosphere in what feels like every town, city and village. It’s no wonder the locals are so welcoming!
The only country in the Southern Hemisphere to make it into the top ten, New Zealand was ranked the second friendliest destination for tourists.
With its unbelievable natural beauty and penchant for extreme sports, New Zealand has carved a rather unique space for itself in the tourism industry.
It may be a country that has more sheep than people, but the people it does have are very friendly indeed.
Just beating New Zealand to first place is Iceland: the cold, beautiful country located so far north it can barely call itself part of Europe.
This wonderful country’s reputation was damaged somewhat by a volcanic eruption in 2010 that saw planes across Europe grounded and millions stranded, but it has mounted a comeback since then.
Iceland has been on a relentless tourism drive in the last two years, with more cheap flights and good deals on accommodation and tours, so it fully deserves its place at the top of the pile.