Destination Watch

Destinations in Trouble: Grades D+ to F

[Billboards outside Cancún, Riviera Maya (grade “D+”). Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot]

From 2004 to 2010, National Geographic expert panelists weighed environment, cultural factors, built heritage, aesthetics, tourism management, and overall trend for each destination. These grades reflect their consensus, reported on five pages:

Download a pdf of all 440 destination grades, listed by country.


These places have become dominated by serious problems.


Remedial action and changes in policy urgently needed.

Vietnam Ha Long Bay
Portugal Algarve
Turks and Caicos Providenciales
Israel/Jordan Dead Sea
Mexico: Quintana Roo Caribbean Coast, “Riviera Maya”
Vietnam Nha Trang-Mui Ne area
Spain Costa Blanca
U.S.: South Carolina Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach & region)
Spain Costa Brava
Egypt Northern Red Sea coast
U.S.: Maryland/Virginia Chesapeake Bay
Barbados as a whole
Jamaica North Coast
India Goa
Dominican Republic North coast



Lowest on the current Stewardship Index, these places need a complete change in policy and direction in order to restore destination quality, distinctiveness, and sustainability.

Nepal Kathmandu Valley
U.S.: Arizona Tombstone
Cambodia Sihanoukville
Egypt Sharm el-Sheikh area
Spain Ibiza
United Arab Emirates Dubai
Mexico Cabo San Lucas region, BCS
U.S. Virgin Islands St Thomas
Cambodia Phnom Penh historic areas
Israel Bethlehem (Israel/Palestine)
U.S.: Colorado Central City
Spain Costa del Sol

D–  to F

Based on the 2004-2010 National Geographic surveys, the only scores in this range are now out of date, such as the U.S. Gulf Coast after the BP oil rupture. Other, once acceptable scores are now obsolete. For example, based on news reports alone, we feel confident in recategorizing this war-scarred destination, which previously would have received a “B-“:


Syria Aleppo

Note—These letter grades interpret some 80% of the numerical survey scores reported by National Geographic (weighted to favor the more recent scores). The Destination Stewardship Center has applied these grades independently, and we take sole responsibility for them. For the original numerical scores and panelist comments, consult the appropriate links to National Geographic. Please also read about methodology.

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