Global Tourists

Choosing a Data Set
In trying understand the kinds of data sets that we would like to work with, we examined data from (a streaming internet radio service) and with live feed of statistics describing developments on Second Life (a globally popular virtual world). Finally, we decided to go with a UN data set: Tourist Arrivals by Region of Origin for the years 2001-2005.

It is usually easy to find information about the most popular global tourist destinations. What is less understood is ‘who travels where’, or to put it in broader terms, which travelers place the world’s top tourist destinations at the top of the charts. We focussed on exploring this interesting domain, including only the world’s top twenty-five tourist destinations (by revenue from tourism).

The Visualisation

We chose to place the visualisation on a map of the world in order to be able to simultaneously represent both a region of origin and the tourism hotspots most frequented by its travelers. The region of origin chosen is depicted by a color, while circles of the corresponding color represent the places visited by its native tourist population. The size of the circle indicates volume of tourist traffic.

Viewers can choose to see the visualisation in either a ‘map’ (Image01) or a ‘stack’ (Image02) view. Stacks can further be organised by ‘Destination’ or ‘Number of Visitors’; switching between these two modes reveals interesting learnings in the trends.

Main Learnings from our Data Visualisation

The main learning that it’s evident from browsing the visualisation is that global tourism is largely regional. Tourists from the Americas travel largely within the Americas, with some concentrated numbers traveling in a few parts of Europe. Europeans travel mostly within Europe, as do Asians and Africans. If there are far-off exceptions, they are limited in number and usually to a very specific set of places based on the region of origin.

Since data was only available for a six year period, there were no huge variations from year to year, especially when seen in the map view. In the stack view however, one notices that competition for tourist revenue is fierce, indicated by the frequent changes in place among the contenders under the fifth place.