“Genuine.” “Untouched.” Every last one is a loaded term when it comes
to travel, and, like temperature, comes in degrees. International
tourism used to be a luxury for the well-monied few; now the sky is the
limit, and, even better, modern transportation puts just about
everywhere within reach.
The downside is the rise of touristiness. Not surprisingly, some
destinations become victims of their own success and become so popular
that the very nature of the place begins to change, from something
native-born to something hotels and officials feel will be more
palatable, acceptable, and culturally easily-accessible to foreign
visitors. Pattaya (Thailand), Playa del Carmen (Mexico), Mykonos
(Greece), and St. Tropez (France) have become so, ah,
“internationalized” that any cultural exploration is a moot point. It is
the inevitable price you pay by being among the most traveled
destinations on the planet.
But what are the least traveled places?
destinations that people aren’t going to is always something of a mixed
bag; there may be some very good reasons why people aren’t going. There
are no countries out there that people are not visiting strictly because
they are not visiting. When you hear of pedestrian traffic
jams on Mt. Everest, one of the most hostile and deadly mountains on
the planet, you know that natural danger is no longer a deterrent.
Rather, it’s the man-made stuff that gets in the way: You could have
civil wars, a collapse of governmental authority and control, or
terrorist activity. Overachievers like Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and
Syria have all three.
It took some
research, but I found three countries that come in as “least-traveled.”
As a gay writer, it is imperative that I say these destinations are not
undiscovered gay paradises, but they are free of outside influence; to
go to them is to have an experience that is as true to native form as it
In 2014, this eastern European country sandwiched between Romania and
Ukraine saw all of 11,000 tourists. This could be because of the fact
the country has one of the longest-running frozen conflicts on the
continent; when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 all its constituent
republics became independent nations. This did not sit well with the
very large Russian minority in Moldova, which has effectively divided
the country in two, with the Moldovans on the larger west side of the
Dniester River, and the Russians on the smaller east in the de facto
independent, but unrecognised, nation of Transnistria
But while this
is a conflict, it would be hard to call it an active “war.” It’s not
like bullets are flying hourly across the Dniester; it’s something of a
frosty stalemate. For its part, and in a big “screw you” to the
Transnistria conflict that constitutes only a very small slice of
territory, Moldova has enthusiastically embraced the least-traveled
label as a selling point. When you go to Moldova, you get a Moldovan
experience. The country has a lot of pluses, from its delicious wine
industry, Roman and Byzantine remains, ornate monasteries, and natural
landscapes — all of which are largely unknown to the outside world, and
largely untouched (there’s that word again) by pre-fabricated
The Federated States of Micronesia
It has no wars, no terrorism, and uncontested control over its regions.
So if Micronesia has any downside, it is because the place is just so
Think of a
tropical Pacific paradise and Hawaii, Tahiti, or Bora-Bora come to mind.
All three, while very deserving of their 5-star luxury ratings, are
also so “discovered” as to be “done.” Much further west, and much more
true to its native Polynesian culture, are the far-flung atolls of
people? Check! Pristine beaches? Check! Serviceable airports? Check! But
after that, the bumps begin to appear. While its tourism potential has
long be touted, Micronesia, north of the island of New Guinea, has never
had the cash to make itself a world-class South Pacific destination,
even though all the basic building blocks are there. This long-bemoaned
and perennial lack of tourist infrastructure makes the country, for the
lack of a better term, “rustic.” However, if that does it for you, and
you don’t mind the commuting times, Micronesia just might be the
tropical getaway for you. More, from an LGBTQ perspective, the “FSM” is
the safest on this list.
isn’t the only odd-man out in the South Pacific. Tonga, American Samoa,
the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu, too, are off the touristy
Bad reputations die hard, and this country is known more for natural
disasters, political upheaval, and a deplorable human rights record than
it is for fabulous temples, archeological sites, dazzling textiles,
almost unreal landscapes, and one of the longest unbroken sandy beaches
in the world (the 75-mile stretch of sand at Cox’s Bazar). There are
actually a lot of strengths to the Bangladeshi tourism industry.
In terms of
travelers to natives, Bangladesh is the least traveled-to country on the
planet, with one tourist for every 1,272 residents, out of population
of 168,958,000. The country, whose economy is fairly solid
, has pushed hard to market
itself as an international destination with its “Beautiful Bangladesh
campaign. As with Micronesia, Bangladesh tends to be the playground of
the intrepid, but in this conversation, that is the point. Bangladesh is
not touristy, so its allures will not be like stepping out of your
living room into your living room.
capital, is an ancient city with fascinating Moghul and British Raj
sites, but don’t be too surprised if you find yourself in the
previously-mentioned Cox’s Bazar, on the country’s southeastern coast.
Long the playground for the natives, that city and its neighbor of
Chittagong form the poles of the budding tourist zone.
Steele Luxury Travel