Looking back at tourism industry reports published a few months ago, the future seemed rosy. After 10 consecutive years of growth, international tourism was described by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation as a “leading and resilient economic sector”. People were travelling for longer periods and spending more than ever before. Cruise lines would welcome record numbers of passengers in 2020 and Chinese tourists looked perfectly capable of propping up dozens of developing world economies. But that was then. For global holiday hot spots, the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns is crucial. Not just their own curfews, you understand, but those affecting the countries that provide them with their visitors. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently that foreign holidays were not on the agenda, shock waves were felt throughout the Mediterranean. Hoteliers, restaurateurs and bar owners in Spain will also be watching pronouncements from the British government with bated breath. Last year, it received 18 million British visitors. Here’s a collection of countries and their leading source of tourists. Or, to put it another way, a list of holiday hosts and the nationality they will be most relieved to see return. Havana, the capital of Cuba , is a mere 367km from Miami, in the United States, but as a result of the ongoing political stand-off, Canadians not Americans make up the greatest number of its overseas arrivals. Last year, a quarter of all visitors to Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest island, were so-called snowbirds, escaping the Canadian winter for warmer weather. New Zealand relies on Australians for its largest group of international visitors while Australia receives more tourists from China than from any other country. Together, the two southern hemisphere nations account for 60 to 70 per cent of total tourist arrivals in the Pacific islands of Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu . Until the coronavirus pandemic hit, Chinese tourists were returning to South Korea in their millions, as a diplomatic spat was being forgotten. In March 2017, Beijing had brought its Asian neighbour to heel by banning the sale of package tours in protest at Seoul’s decision to deploy an American missile defence system. But after a year that saw mainland tourists playing the role of pawns in a game of political brinkmanship, the ban was relaxed. In sightseeing symmetry, South Koreans make up the largest inbound source market for China . Tourism-wise, the Koreans are also top dogs in the Philippines , and have been for nine consecutive years. Until the world suddenly changed, there were 12 airlines flying between the two countries. China dominates demand for Greek residence-by-investment visas but isn’t a principal player in the tourism market. Germans lead the way in loving all things Hellenic, followed by the British. Chinese holidaymakers have a thing, however, for countries beginning with “M”. They make up the largest number of visitors to Mongolia, Myanmar and the Maldives , and are the top source of tourists to Thailand . Almost 11 million Chinese visited the Land of Smiles in 2019, with travellers from Malaysia and India trailing in their wake. On the subject of India, Nepal receives its most significant intake of foreign visitors from its huge neighbour to the south; most of whom arrive in May and June to escape the heat at home. Western guests, who usually come for trekking and mountaineering, prefer March and especially October, when the monsoon rains have cleared the sky of dust and pollution. Chinese tourists visit Nepal year-round, as do the next largest inbound group, Sri Lankans on pilgrimages to Lumbini, birthplace of the Lord Buddha. Indians are also world leaders in terms of trips to Sri Lanka , mainly for weddings, honeymoons and spiritual journeys. Rounding off places where Indian tourists surpass all others are Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bhutan . It remains to be seen whether this will change in the case of the latter. Visa-free travel for Indians ends in July, although the new daily fee of 1,200 rupees (HK$123) is significantly less than other passport holders pay to visit Bhutan. Colonial links and the lack of a language barrier may account for why more French tourists visit Madagascar than those from any other country. A similar sense of familiarity probably explains why British tourists outnumber other nationalities in Barbados and Cyprus – ditto Dutch visitors to Curacao and Suriname in the Caribbean and South America, respectively. Britons do their bit (in alcohol consumption mainly) to keep a number of holiday destinations afloat while the Americans and French contribute the most to Britain’s tourism coffers. Brexit didn’t have the expected negative impact on arrivals, as the decision to leave the European Union resulted in a weakened pound. In Africa, Americans are Kenya’s most loyal holidaymakers while Germans are Egypt’s biggest fans, followed by Ukrainians, thanks to the resumption of direct flights in 2018. Last year, twice as many Ukrainians visited Russia as the next nationality, Kazakhstanis. Although armed conflict between the neighbours, beginning in 2014, caused a nosedive in cross-border trips that hasn’t lasted. Meanwhile, in Turkey , low-cost flights, visa-free travel and the fact that 2019 was Turkey-Russia Culture and Tourism Year help to explain why Russians rule the roost in Istanbul and beyond. Less surprisingly, they also represent the most sizeable tourist cohort in Finland . Let’s finish with some more predictable pairings. You won’t be shocked to learn that Czechs lead the list of international tourists in Slovakia and Chileans make up the largest number of visitors to Peru . Mexican tourists love travelling to the US more than anywhere else and Americans return the favour by topping the tourist arrival tables in Mexico . Germans lap up the canals and tulips of the Netherlands like no other nation, Argentinians can’t keep away from Brazil and Singaporeans are Malaysia’s principal inbound source market. So now you know why most menus in Turkish seaside resorts are in Russian; hotel receptionists in Bangkok can speak Mandarin (or are taking classes) and why almost every cafe on the Spanish costas serves up a decent English breakfast. Tourists might all be equal in the eyes of our hosts but some nationalities are more equal than others.