Alongside the Fifa World Cup 2018 I have conducted a little competition of my own that I called the Travel World Cup. Here I paired the same countries competing for the Fifa Trophy with the each other, but instead of playing football I was asking a number of people where they would like to go the most.
The rules were simple:
I show a number of people 3 pictures of each country, and they vote for which one they would like to visit the most.
For the group stage matches, I gave points like the following:
- If a country won the vote with more than 55%: 3 points
- If the votes came out between 45% – 55 % for each: 1 points for each
- If the country lost the vote with less than 45%: 0 points
The number of participants varied from match to match but was in average 122 participants.
The same 32 countries competed within the same 8 groups as in the Fifa World Cup. The knock-out phase was also accordingly – however, with the winners of the Travel World Cup group stage instead.
Of course there is no World Cup without trying to guess the outcome beforehand. Just like you have an idea that Brazil is a good football team, you also have an idea about which countries people would rather visit.
But to have more clarity I did a survey to see in which continents I should expect the best travel countries to be. Here I paired up the regions and asked where people would rather go backpacking.
Latin America 48 % | 52 % Europe
Australian continent 65 % | 35 % Central Asia
North Africa & Middle East 68 % | 32 % Sub-Saharan Africa
Basically this told me about which countries I should not expect to win. Here Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa clearly did not do well.
Any of the remaining regions I expected to do well. Specially Europe, that has some of the most “traditional” favorites for people who has not travelled much. For example, who haven’t heard someone say he would love to visit Paris or Rome or Greece?
My experience is that people are often very concerned with safety while traveling and believe most of what the media is telling about a country. And thus I thought the middle eastern and south american countries would finally lose. My top 4 expectations were: France, Switzerland, Australia and Japan.
In average 122 people votes for every match. The maximum amount of votes was 179 for the Argentina-Iceland match. The lowest was 28 votes in the Croatia-Nigeria match.
Depends on where the voters come from it might have a big influence on the outcome. The distribution was as follows:
Another influential factor is how well traveled the voters are. Well basically the voters are you guys, and being on a travel blog already means you have some experience and knowledge about countries.
The voters were also very well traveled. In average, you guys have traveled 13 countries.
And the winner is:
Here it comes.. but if you are interested in more statiscs and analysis you can read the paragraphs after:
Winner is: ICELAND
2nd place: Australia
3rd place: Japan
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
All the results:
Let us have a look at the many surprises of this game:
- The biggest surprise for me was seeing Iceland win it all! Beating out great travel destinations like Morocco, Denmark, Croatia, Argentina, Japan and Australia. This was a surprise for me, because I do not find Iceland more interesting than so many other places but I guess the northern light has its appeal.
- The second big surprise was that France lost big time. It lost all of it’s matches but getting 1 point against Denmark by scoring 48 %.
- Colombia is one of the countries you always hear is so dangerous. However, it made it to the quarter finals only beaten by Brazil. This is a huge surprise and made me happy to know that people are not getting afraid of visiting anymore.
- Only 2 European countries made it to the quarter finals: Spain and Iceland. I thought Europe was much more popular.
- The 4 semi finalists came from each their continent!
Other things I personally found disappointing:
- All African countries was eliminated quickly. Morocco made it to the quarter finals, however Egypt lost early to Spain – in my world totally not understandable even though I love Spain!
- Iran only received 1 point. Totally underrated Iran!
- Serbia being the least attractive travel country of all 32.
Well.. it is no secret that I have favorite countries of my own. You can check out my lists of favorite places I have been to and not been to here and here. Therefore, I have been really disappointed with some of the results.
How can Egypt not make it futher than the Round of 16? It should be the number one travel destinations based on quantifying attractions. I mean, the biggest amount of history and archeology – not only related to the Old Egyptians but everything from Whale fossils in the Sahara desert to the amazing Mamluk’s mosques. Also it has borders to 2 different seas and thereby many beautiful beaches. Not to mention the only remaining Wonder of the World – the Pyramids!
Also it is really hard to understand how Iceland can be more popular than culturally unique countries like Japan or enormous countries like Brazil and Australia. Don’t get me wrong, Iceland is beautiful and also has some unique natural sights like the geysers, however most of what you find there can also be found in Norway, Sweden and most interestingly Greenland. The last I would have seen win it all but not Iceland. In anyway – Congratulations to this small but extremely competitive country!
Why did Iceland win?
This got me thinking a little about why Iceland won. There is a statistical logic to it:
Europe was one of the continents voted very popular to backpack in. However, because most of the voters were Europeans they probably have visited most of the “common” European countries already. Iceland, however, is in the outskirts of Europe and is often forgotten and hard to reach. It is still Europe though, so very popular and the only country not visited so it got all the European votes as well.
Of course this is just a statistical explanation, but of course Iceland is a legit interesting place to visit. It’s uniqueness is undeniable and so it deserves to win!
Here are some of the comments for why Iceland was chosen in the final game:
“Iceland intrigues me so much. I’d love to go in the winter and visit the Blue Lagoon and natural hot springs”
“I chose Iceland because it is so much lesser known than Australia”
“Hard decision! But I have already been to Australia so I want to give Iceland a try”
“It just looks like an unbelievable country, those places you only see in TV”
“I want to see the Northern Light!”
How people perceived the question had a big influence
There is a big difference in how the voters perceived the question: “Which country would you rather visit?”
I have seen people from the country asked for to vote for it just to support their own country. Others have always voted on the opposite country than their own because why would you visit a country you live in?
Others have probably perceived the question as “which country is best to travel in?” so they voted for that even if they have already visited and seen it all.
It is hard to avoid these differences in how people vote. Let me know how you perceived it in the comments and if there is anything to do to ensure alignment in the perception for next time!
Is it gonna be in 4 years? Or should I do it more often with other countries? Maybe some that doesn’t necessarily make it to the FIFA Football World Cup? Should I do this every year?
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it, enjoyed reading it and how often you want me to do this? Maybe never again? 😛