Which country would win the World Cup of holiday destinations?


How the world was won: Match analysis


Never mind the football – here's the planet's first proper holiday tournament. While England square up to the US in Rustenburg tonight, The Independent Traveller can exclusively reveal the results of the World Cup of Holiday Destinations (WCHD).



How does it work? Well, we've devised a championship based on how many British travellers visit each of the competing nations annually (still no answer from plucky North Korea, but we'll go with the Foreign Office's "very few"), then ranked the teams in each group for an extraordinary game of fantasy tourism.



The Group Stage

The Independent Traveller's WCHD group stages follow those prescribed by Fifa's draw, made six months ago in Cape Town – and the early battles reflect the footballing prowess of Britain's favoured tourist destinations. In Group A, France relies on a strong strike-force of Brittany, Normandy and Provence – plus the midfield reach of winter resorts such as Chamonix – to ease past South Africa (star performer Kruger National Park). The hosts themselves just pip Mexico (gutted to be out despite an impressive performance out on the right wing from the Yucatá*Peninsula) and therefore become the only representative from Africa to survive the group stage.

Group B sees comfortable victories for Greece (stand up Athens, Rhodes and Crete) and a surprise second place for South Korea (87,000 visitors per year trouncing the 56,000 of strongly fancied Argentina, where the wonders of the River Plate failed to perform as convincingly as the bright lights of Seoul).

In Group C, England uses the energy of the Lake District to good effect, then employs left-back Cornwall to thrash up-and-coming Slovenia. But there's a threat from the US, with Mickey Mouse from Orlando firing in a series of extravagant goals. Algeria, meanwhile, remains off the UK tourist map.

Elsewhere, Germany flatters to deceive at the top of Group D, with cruises along the Rhine attracting an older market, while Australia has a team filled with individual promise (Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru) but which suffers from terrible jetlag.

The other four groups run out roughly as expected, with city-breaks to Amsterdam serving the Netherlands well in Group E, and Portugal and Brazil adding Lusitanian appeal to Group G at the expense of the Ivory Coast and the handful of British tourists reportedly paying their respects to Kim Jong-il in North Korea.

No-hopers Chile (no direct flights) and Honduras (ditto) are embarrassed by Spain in Group H (thanks to star striker the Canary Islands, with around one million visitors to Tenerife alone in 2009). Switzerland slaloms into second place, with Alpine ski resorts providing defensive height. But what's Slovakia doing through to the next round, with a place alongside Italy from Group F? The Tatra Mountains outclass New Zealand's epic Milford Sound by just 3,000, barely more than the total of British visitors to the group laggards, Paraguay.

The Second Round

Things get a little clearer: plucky little Portugal brings on super-sub the Algarve, which easily bypasses Switzerland's central defensive duo of Verbier and Zermatt. Greece then thumps South Africa (the package holiday transfer market paying dividends there). Meanwhile Italy, with a squad including Venice, Rome, Lake Como, Tuscany, Sicily, olives, wine, sunshine and millennia of culture, utterly destroys Denmark (even with Legoland in goal). England slips past Australia with ease; a decent Bordeaux from France beats sipping soju in South Korea; and staying closer to home, the mighty mountains and Zlaty Bazant beer of Slovakia are beaten by the low-rise delights and Heineken of the Netherlands.

The glamour match is Spain versus Brazil, where decent ferry routes and the sports bars of the Costas prevail over the romance of Rio. And then, big news: the Sunshine State brings flair and the Big Apple adds grit (plus Bloomingdale's) as the US puts out Germany, with only Hamburg and Frankfurt showing any appetite for the fight.

The Quarter Finals

The first battle of the touristic titans sees England wiping the floor with the French – Cannes and St-Tropez proving no match for Bognor and Bridlington, with a winning margin of 92 million. And still they come: Las Vegas is a key player as the US ups the ante by kicking Greece back into antiquity; and Spain trumps Italy by a stunning 10.4 million annual visits . The Iberian peninsula scores a double: port and Madeira help Portugal ease past Holland. What were the Dutch smoking?

The Semi Finals

They think it's 1966 all over again: it is now, as England beats Portugal, with the Isle of Wight and the Scillies towering over the Azores. And even Mickey Mouse can't stand up to a combination of having it large in Ibiza and taking it slow in Seville, so Spain wins through to the final.

The Final

And the winner is... England. It was never really in doubt, with the domestic tourism market enjoying a home advantage since long before 1966. Nevertheless, Spain offered up decent opposition in the final as our favourite package holiday destination.

Turkey, you should have been there: 2.4 million visits by British tourists could have seen you through to the quarters finals. And an honourable mention for Scotland, again absent from the party: 12.5 million UK tourists in 2009 could, with the right draw, have seen the Scots take on the Auld Enemy in the glittering culmination of the World Cup of Holiday Destinations. Now that would be worth watching – with no passport required.

Ben Ross

Home and Away: Hot tickets to the Top 16

AUSTRALIA

Match-winner: Sydney has its epic harbour; Bondi beach is within easy reach.

Dream Ticket: £639 return on China Airlines via Taipei through trailfinders.co.uk .

BRAZIL

Match-winner: Rio for mountains, beaches and Carioca cool in one vibrant city.

Dream Ticket: BA has flights from Heathrow this month from £634 return ( ba.com ).

DENMARK

Match-winner: Copenhagen's restaurants boast more Michelin stars than Rome, one of which is Noma, voted the world's best restaurant.

Dream Ticket: from £65.60 return from Gatwick this month with Norwegian ( norwegian.no ).

ENGLAND

Match-winner: London, for the sheer breadth of history and culture – and the forthcoming Olympic Games.

Dream Ticket: £80 per person per night with breakfast, at the four-star Shaftesbury Premier London Notting Hill through Directline Holidays ( directline-citybreaks.co.uk ).

FRANCE

Match-winner: with vineyards, beaches, mountains, lavender fields and that artist-favoured light, Provence is hard to beat.

Dream Ticket: seven nights for the price of six at the four-star Hotel Belle Plage in Cannes in July and August: £789 per person including Eurostar ( f-t-s.co.uk ).

GERMANY

Match-winner: Berlin, one of the most visited destinations in the EU: the Brandenburg Gate is its centrepiece.

Dream Ticket: £82 return from Stansted this month with Air Berlin ( airberlin.com ).

GREECE

Match-winner: more than 6,000 Greek islands mean there are thousands of holiday opportunities.

Dream Ticket: £410 for flights and a week in a three-bedroom villa in Corfu with Ionian and Aegean Island Holidays this month ( ionianislandholidays.com ).

ITALY

Match-winner: world-class wine, Renaissance cities, beaches and a leaning tower – it can only be Tuscany.

Dream Ticket: seven nights from £239 in September with Eurotunnel crossings through Cresta ( crestaholidays.co.uk ).

THE NETHERLANDS

Match-winner: Amsterdam, for art, culture, and canals.

Dream Ticket: the cheapest returns this month start at £59 from Gatwick with easyJet ( easyjet.com ).

PORTUGAL

Match-winner: the Algarve isn't all golf; new design-driven hotels are giving the region a stylish makeover.

Dream Ticket: seven nights in Vilamoura with flights from Birmingham in late June from £460 B&B through Monster Travel ( monstertravel.co.uk ).

SLOVAKIA

Match-winner: the Tatra Mountains, with lakes, Alpine peaks and national parks.

Dream Ticket: The Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras is offering midweek stays from €75 per person including breakfast ( kempinski.com ).

SOUTH AFRICA

Match-winner: Cape Town boasts wild Atlantic scenery and Table Mountain, plus some great dining options.

Dream Ticket: £1,399 for nine nights in a boutique B&B plus flights between mid-July and August through Destinology ( destinology.co.uk ).

SOUTH KOREA

Match-winner: Seoul Special City deserves its title for being the world's biggest city, as well as this year's World Design Capital.

Dream Ticket: return flights from £575 later this month with Emirates via Dubai through expedia.co.uk .

SPAIN

Match-winner: the southern region of Andalucia packs in sun-soaked beaches, Moorish history, oranges and olives.

Dream Ticket: James Villa Holidays has seven nights at Villa Laura, Nerja for £272 with flights from Luton at the end of June ( jamesvillas.co.uk ).

SWITZERLAND

Match-winner: whether slaloming in winter or hiking in summer, the Swiss Alps have year-round appeal.

Dream Ticket: £499 for seven nights' half board in Saas Fee with flights departing later this week through Inghams ( inghams.co.uk ).

UNITED STATES

Match-winner: yes, it has New York, the Pacific West Coast and Florida, but none can match the majesty of the Grand Canyon.

Dream Ticket: North America Travel Service has a six-night break in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon from £1,335 per person with flights ( northamericatravelservice.co.uk ).

Sophie Lam

SOURCES: All figures are from The Office for National Statistics except: Algeria from the Algerian Consulate; Netherlands from the Dutch Tourist Office; Brazil, Ghana and Uruguay from the Foreign Office; Cameroon from the Cameroon Embassy; Chile from the Chilean Embassy; South Korea from the Korean Tourist Office; Paraguay, Argentina and Honduras from the Latin American Travel Association; Nigeria and Ivory Coast are industry estimates

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas