Rome: When you think of dream holiday destinations, you might picture exotic trips to far-flung islands in the Maldives or the Caribbean. But the “most desired” holiday destination in the world is in fact Italy, a survey has found. Italy was the most-searched holiday destination among people in 97 countries, including the US, Canada, Ireland, Russia, China, and most European countries, according to a study by travel website TravelSupermarket. The survey used Google’s Keyword Planner, searching all languages, to establish the average monthly search volume in each country for the term ‘Holidays in X’ for over 870 destinations. The most searched-for place in each country was then chosen as the top destination. “As an iconic destination for art, architecture, gastronomy and history, it’s no surprise to see travellers from as far afield as Argentina, New Zealand and Canada looking to holiday in Italy.” “Popular cities include Rome, Venice and Florence, while Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are ideal for a seaside escape,” he told The Local. “Interestingly, European countries dominate the most Googled holiday destinations globally with four out of the top five being located on the continent.” While there’s no doubt that many of us look at dream holidays online as a form of escapism, these online searches, recorded in late 2018, seem to correspond with the actual number of people visiting Italy. Tourism in Italy is booming, as the latest figures show more than 420 million annual visitors and a 4.4 increase year on year – well above the European average. Visitor numbers are only expected to grow, with 2019 set to be busier than ever for many of Italy’s tourist hotspots, partly thank to a growing Chinese tourism market. It’s not good news for everyone, of course. An anti-tourist movement is growing in some of the country’s most popular beauty spots, including Venice and the towns of Cinque Terre, where local residents have protested against overcrowding in their cities and an impact on liveability. Overtourism in iconic Italian destinations has led to the introduction of measures like Venice charging an entry fee from this year. Italy tops charts like these for a very good reason, and of course, we think everyone should visit. But it’s a big country, and there are plenty of incredible places to explore outside of the overcrowded hotspots.