In this article, we shall discuss 40 least-welcoming countries in the world. To skip our detailed analysis of the global hospitality sector in 2023, go directly and see 10 Least-Welcoming Countries in the World.
The global hospitality industry is valued at $4.6 trillion as of 2023 and is expected to rise to $5.8 trillion by 2027, marking a CAGR of 5.5%. According to a market report by CBRE, the rebound of global travel patterns are expected to normalize hotel market fundamentals to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. The relaxation of travel restrictions in China and Japan, alongside a resurging Chinese economic outlook, is forecasted to return APAC region RevPAR (revenue per available room) to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. According to an analysis by Forbes, hotel wages have risen more than 19% from 2020 to 2023 even in some of the least-welcoming countries in the world, making the industry a more attractive first-choice prospect for college graduates looking to join the workforce. Market performance of the global hospitality sector has surpassed other competing industries like technology and retail with the gap increasing in the latter half of 2023. The post-pandemic demand for travel remains substantial which should drive continued growth in 2024, with RevPAR up more than 8.3% in 2023 from 2019 in the US. RevPAR exceeded GDP growth within the current economic cycle and overall, the hospitality industry looks poised for a strong year in 2024. Some of the largest players in the hospitality industry are Marriott International (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT), and MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM).
According to Ernst and Young, this rampant growth within the hospitality sector is largely owing to the recovery of business travel globally as companies ramp up travel budgets. The frequency and popularity of trade shows and conferences post the pandemic points to the pent-up demand which persists across industries. Certain analysts cited the growth of the work-from-home segment in recent years as a cautionary note for the hotel industry in coming years; however, it has since become apparent that the growth in the work-from-home segment has been an essential proponent of the resurgence of the hospitality industry as employees are now building their travel plans around both business and leisure. "Bleisure travel", where business executives add a day or some budget extra time in their work trip for sightseeing or other kinds of leisure activity. Hence, these developments in the market points to increased revenue and continued recovery of the global hospitality sector in 2024 even in the least-welcoming countries in the world. You can read more on the resurgence of the travel industry in our article 12 Best Travel Stocks to Buy Right Now.
Overcoming Hotel Staffing Shortages: An Analysis
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, hotel staff around the world were forced to stay home, with more than seventy percent of hotel staff facing massive layoffs in the United States. During the pandemic, numerous hospitality workers reevaluated their career paths and work-life balance and have since opted for employment opportunities which offer increased flexibility or higher pay such as retail, e-commerce, or warehousing. This has presented the global hotel industry with a massive problem post-pandemic, with many companies now struggling to restore their labor pools especially in some of the least-welcoming countries in the world. According to a survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), more than 87% of hotels in the United States have reported that they are battling severe staff shortages. 45 percent of hotels highlighted housekeeping roles as being the most critically understaffed. According to the survey, similar labor pool insufficiencies are hindering operations in hotels across the United States as employment in the hospitality industry significantly plummeted by almost 400,000 jobs between 2020 and 2023, with more than one in 20 vacancies still remaining unfilled.
According to a report by McKinsey, this stark labor shortage presents countless opportunities to companies like Marriott International (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT), and MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) to pursue innovative methods to fill job openings and overcome the global talent crisis which persists in some of the least-welcoming countries in the world. One of the primary methods companies can use is to use standardized activity-based metrics to predict frontline coverage requirements. The report points out that hotels tend to predicate recruitment based on average weekly occupancy which does not reflect actual need since occupancy is extremely volatile and fluctuates frequently. Alternatively, companies could expand occupancy metrics to include specific criteria, like the frequency of check-ins and check-outs, or the number of tables seated at the hotel restaurant.
Other innovative practice that companies could use is to redesign and revamp employment roles to combine similar jobs. Conventional hotel recruitment tends to include a variety of roles with clear delineations between managers and frontline employees. Each discipline such as housekeeping, front-desk, and maintenance boast different career pathways to promotion. However, to ramp up resilience in times of adversity, companies could revamp job descriptions in a way where a smaller workforce is needed to perform the same number and quality of tasks. This could entail merging similar roles or cross-training staff, the latter allowing for the possibility for staff to occasionally switch roles accordingly. Furthermore, hotel companies could also curate job networks across properties, with roles staffed to cover an extensive network of sites rather than just one location, especially in companies which have a centralized administration for functions like legal, accounting, and human resource. This approach could prove to be fruitful for a variety of different jobs like office support, frontline staff, specialized positions, and management in some of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
The Future of the Hotel Industry: A Brief Overview
According to an interview of senior Accor executives by McKinsey, the hotel guest experience in the 2030s is likely to entail a variant of augmented hospitality, where the hotel becomes more than a mere place to stay. Hotels will be looking to move away from their current position as part of a travel experience; alternatively, they are shifting to become locations people can enjoy even if they reside within the same neighborhood. This hybrid model is an important and growing trend within the global hotel industry, with companies like Marriott International (NYSE:MAR), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT), and MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) racing to optimize and drive the industry-wide shift in efforts to maximize profitability and enhance resilience to tourism disruptions in the future, especially in some of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Furthermore, with a massive rebound in business travel, companies are on the brink of reaching pre-pandemic levels of business. However, there is a massive shift in the nature of business travel with 'bleisure travel' overtaking the former. Within the next decade, hotel managers are expecting that all different elements of life - business, private life, play, culinary experiences, friendship reunions - will intertwine in an unprecedented manner. This has led to hotels around the world increasing investments in multipurpose rooms and spaces where guests can simultaneously work, eat, and socially connect throughout the day. Hotels are also recognizing the need for rooms to be more dynamic and potentially transforming within minutes from small in-person meeting rooms to areas fit for proper, professional video conferencing.
Moreover, these transformations are likely to affect the very design of hotels in the next decade. According to Accor executive Damien Perrot:
"Sustainability is the starting point of everything we do concerning design. When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about not just reducing the carbon footprint and energy consumption but also improving the quality of work for the employees—so ergonomics is also very important to integrate into design. Sometimes, design becomes a word that just means, “It looks nice.” But it’s much more than that: design is a tool which, when used properly, can make a property very efficient in terms of guest experience, employee experience, and sustainability. In the 2030s, the design and architecture of hotels will be completely different. Biophilic design, which increases connectivity to the natural environment, will completely shape the future of hospitality. A range of technologies, many of which already exist today, will be integrated into hotels to make them more self-sufficient."
You can read more on the transformational shifts within the global tourism industry in our coverage of the 40 Most Visited Cities in the World in 2023.
To compile our list of the 40 least-welcoming countries in the world, we decided to undertake a consensus-based approach using a diverse variety of credible sources to determine which countries have exhibited the least amount of hospitality (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). We then shortlisted more than 80 countries which appeared most frequently during our research. Since hospitality is an incredibly multifaceted and complex phenomenon, we established a three-pronged criteria to measure how welcoming each country is; the criteria is premised on each country's overall cultural openness (25 points), political stability and safety (20 points), and visa policy (15 points). We then proceeded to award each country a cumulative score according to the aforementioned criteria and selected 40 countries which scored the highest points. Subsequently, we ranked each entry based on the total points scored, from lowest to highest. Where there was a tie, we broke it based on the overall cultural openness within the country.
To read about the most-welcoming countries in the world, check out our article on the 30 Friendliest Countries in the World.
Least-Welcoming Countries in the World
40. Burkina Faso
Total Score: 12
Burkina Faso faces a litany of internal political conflicts, which makes it unsafe for tourists to visit the country.
Total Score: 13
High poverty rates and high crime rates may make Benin seem less welcoming to foreigners.
Total Score: 13
It is generally difficult to enter Eritrea as it widely considered a police state. It is also highly expensive to travel around the country.
Total Score: 15
A large degree of power in Myanmar rests with its military. Thus, there is very little investment which makes its way into the country's tourism sector, making it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 17
Many tourists find Djibouti to be one of the least-welcoming countries in the world as it has an extremely underdeveloped tourism infrastructure.
Total Score: 17
Algeria does not welcome many tourists throughout the year because of a lack of tourism opportunities and extremely conservative culture.
Total Score: 18
Despite having a high potential for tourism, Mali ranks very low on welcoming tourists as it lacks the necessary tourism infrastructure.
Total Score: 19
Burundi does not provide its tourists with easy public transportation and has incredibly stringent visa policies for tourists looking to visit the country for vacation.
Total Score: 19
Due to the ongoing civil war and constant political unrest within the country, Yemen has not been able to welcome tourists, making it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 21
Afghanistan has a highly conservative culture and lacks necessary tourism infrastructure, which hinders outsiders from visiting the country.
Total Score: 22
Despite being at a historical location in Central Asia, Uzbekistan does not welcome many tourists as the country has an underdeveloped tourism infrastructure.
Total Score: 22
To visit Turkmenistan, tourists have to follow a lengthy and expensive procedure in order to receive visas, which discourages many visitors from touring the country.
Total Score: 23
Constant political uncertainty and unrest makes the country seem unwelcoming to outsiders.
Total Score: 25
Syria has an ongoing civil war, which has negatively impacted its infrastructure. Thus, it lacks the ability to host tourists, making it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 28
Currently Libya is not providing entry visas to tourists, unless they pay an exorbitantly expensive fee. This discourages tourists from visiting the country.
Total Score: 28
Ukraine is amidst conflict with Russia, which has hampered public perception pertaining to the country in terms of safety.
Total Score: 29
Tourism in Sudan is decreasing rapidly due to an underdeveloped infrastructure and an excruciatingly slow procedure to receive visit visas.
Total Score: 31
Even though Iraq has a rich cultural heritage, many foreigners do not visit the country due to constant political turmoil. Constant geopolitical tensions have caused locals to harbor suspicion with respect to Western tourists, making Iraq one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 32
One of the most difficult things that tourists face in Japan is the language barrier. It is incredibly difficult to communicate in Japan without knowing Japanese, and the tourists have complained of locals not being particularly helpful.
Total Score: 33
Despite Kazakhstan being a beautiful country, there is an exorbitant level of street crime which discourages tourists from visiting the country.
Total Score: 35
Hungary is generally a safe place to visit; however, it has high levels of crimes in crowded tourist areas along with incredibly stringent visa policies which causes it to make our list of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 36
Slovakia has beautiful landscapes but many people do not visit the country because the locals are not thought to be openly friendly.
Total Score: 37
One main obstacle that tourists face while visiting Sweden is difficulty in finding accommodation for their stay, which is partly due to an overburdened tourism infrastructure, making it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
17. Czech Republic
Total Score: 37
Petty crime is extremely common in the Czech Republic which discourages outsiders from visiting the country.
Total Score: 38
Many tourists are subjected to petty crimes in Austria by locals, making it an unfriendly country to visit.
Total Score: 42
Even though Vietnam wants to promote its tourism sector, it lacks infrastructure and investment potential to do so, making it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 43
Outsiders consider the locals of Latvia to be reserved when dealing with tourists. So it is thought to be unwelcoming.
Total Score: 43
Qatar is often negatively impacted by the constant conflict in its neighboring countries. Furthermore, it has incredibly restrictive policies for tourists, causing it to make our list of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
Total Score: 44
Locals and tourists in Denmark face petty crimes in the country. Thus, many tourists feel discouraged in visiting.
11. North Korea
Total Score: 44
North Korea has restrictive policies for tourists, which makes it one of the least-welcoming countries in the world.
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Disclosure: None. 40 Least-Welcoming Countries in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.