International tourism receipts surpass US$ 1 trillion in 2011
In 2011, international tourism receipts exceeded US$ 1 trillion for the first time, up from US$ 928 billion in 2010. In real terms, receipts grew by 3.8%, following a 4.6% increase in international tourist arrivals. The UN World Tourism Organisation UNWTO thinks this is a very good thing. “The past two years have shown healthy demand for international tourism out of many markets, even though economic recovery has been uneven. This is particularly important news for countries facing fiscal pressure and weak domestic consumption, where international tourism, a key export and a labour intensive activity, is increasingly strategic to balancing external deficits and stimulating employment.” International tourist arrivals grew by over 4% in 2011 to 980 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, and are expected to grow to one billion this year.
International tourism receipts surpass US$ 1 trillion in 2011
In 2011, international tourism receipts exceeded US$ 1 trillion for the first time, up from US$ 928 billion in 2010. In real terms, receipts grew by 3.8%, following a 4.6% increase in international tourist arrivals. An additional US$ 196 billion in receipts from international passenger transport brought total exports generated by international tourism in 2011 to US$ 1.2 trillion.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism receipts continued to recover from the losses of crisis year 2009 and hit new records in most destinations, reaching an estimated US$ 1,030 billion (euro 740 billion) worldwide, up from US$ 928 billion (euro 700 billion) in 2010. In real terms (adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation), international tourism receipts grew by 3.8%, while international tourist arrivals increased by 4.6% in 2011 to 982 million. This confirms the close correlation between both indicators, with growth of receipts tending to lag slightly behind growth of arrivals in times of economic constraints.
“These are encouraging results,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The past two years have shown healthy demand for international tourism out of many markets, even though economic recovery has been uneven. This is particularly important news for countries facing fiscal pressure and weak domestic consumption, where international tourism, a key export and a labour intensive activity, is increasingly strategic to balancing external deficits and stimulating employment.”
“We trust that governments worldwide will progressively recognize this and engage in measures that support tourism including fairer tax policies and the facilitation of visas and travellers’ movements, as these have proven to stimulate economic growth and job creation,” he added.
By regions, the Americas (+5.7%) recorded the largest increase in receipts in 2011, followed by Europe (+5.2%),Asia and the Pacific (+4.3%) and Africa (+2.2%). The Middle East was the only region posting negative growth (-14%).
Europe holds the largest share of international tourism receipts in absolute numbers (45% share), reaching US$ 463 billion (euro 333 bn) in 2011, followed by Asia and the Pacific (28% share or US$ 289 billion/euro 208 bn), and the Americas (19% share or US$ 199 billion/euro 143 bn). The Middle East (4% share) earned US$ 46 billion (euro 33 bn) and Africa (3% share) US$ 33 billion (euro 23 bn) (see table below).
Asides from international tourism receipts (the travel item of the Balance of Payment), tourism also generates export earnings through international passenger transport. The latter amounted to an estimated US$ 196 billion in 2011, bringing total receipts generated by international tourism to US$ 1.2 trillion, or US$ 3.4 billion a day on average.
As a result, international tourism (travel and passenger transport) currently accounts for 30% of the world’s exports of services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services. As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks fourth after fuels, chemicals and food, while ranking first in many developing countries.
Strong growth in international tourism expenditure from the BRIC countries
Many source markets generated strong demand in 2011. However, it was the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) that continued to stand out. China’s expenditure on international tourism increased by US$ 18 billion to US$ 73 billion, the Russian Federation increased by US$ 6 billion to US$ 32 billion, Brazil by US$ 5 billion to US$ 21 billion and India by US$ 3 billion to US$ 14 billion. Together, their increases accounted for an additional US$ 32 billion, a value equivalent to the eighth largest source market by expenditure. Of the advanced economy source markets, Germany, Australia, Norway, Belgium and Canada reported the biggest absolute growth (see table 1).
Increases in receipts in emerging and advanced economy destinations alike
Both advanced and emerging economy destinations benefited from the 2011 growth in arrivals and receipts. Destinations where international tourism receipts grew by US$ 5 billion or more in absolute terms include the United States (increasing by US$ 13 bn to US$ 116 bn), Spain (by US$ 7 bn to US$ 60 bn), France (by US$ 7 bn to US$ 54 bn), Thailand (by US$ 6 bn to US$ 26 bn) and Hong Kong (China) (by US$ 5 bn to US$ 27 bn). Furthermore, significant increases on lower base value destinations were reported by Singapore, the Russian Federation, Sweden, India, the Republic of Korea and Turkey (see table 2).
UNWTO World Tourism Barometer
International tourism to reach one billion in 2012
International tourist arrivals grew by over 4% in 2011 to 980 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. With growth expected to continue in 2012, at a somewhat slower rate, international tourist arrivals are on track to reach the milestone one billion mark later this year.
International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010, in a year characterised by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and natural disasters in Japan. By region, Europe (+6%) was the best performer, while by subregion South-America (+10%) topped the ranking. Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (+5.0%) than in emerging ones (+3.8%), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa.
“International tourism hit new records in 2011 despite the challenging conditions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “For a sector directly responsible for 5% of the world’s GDP, 6% of total exports and employing one out of every 12 people in advanced and emerging economies alike these results are encouraging, coming as they do at a time in which we urgently need levers to stimulate growth and job creation,” he added.
Europe surpasses the half billion mark in 2011
Despite persistent economic uncertainty, tourist arrivals to Europe reached 503 million in 2011, accounting for 28 million of the 41 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Mediterranean destinations (+8% each) experienced the best results. Although part of the growth in Southern Mediterranean Europe resulted from a shift in traffic away from the Middle East and North Africa, destinations in the Mediterranean also profited from improved outbound flows from markets such as Scandinavia, Germany and the Russian Federation.
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) was up 11 million arrivals in 2011, reaching a total 216 million international tourists. South Asia and South-East Asia (both +9%) benefited from strong intraregional demand, while growth was comparatively weaker in North-East Asia (+4%) and Oceania (+0.3%), partly due to the temporary decline in the Japanese outbound market.
The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 156 million in total. South America, up by 10% for the second consecutive year, continued to lead growth. Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%) maintained the growth rates of 2010. North America, with a 3% increase, hit the 100 million tourists mark in 2011.
Africa maintained international arrivals at 50 million, as the gain of two million by Sub-Saharan destinations (+7%) was offset by the losses in North Africa (-12%). The Middle East (-8%) lost an estimated 5 million international tourist arrivals, totalling 55 million. Nevertheless, some destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates sustained steady growth.
Receipts confirm positive trend in arrivals
Available data on international tourism receipts and expenditure for 2011 closely follows the positive trend in arrivals.
Among the top ten tourist destinations, receipts were up significantly in the USA (+12%), Spain (+9%), Hong Kong (China) (+25%) and the UK (+7%). The top spenders were led by emerging source markets – China (+38%), Russia (+21%), Brazil (+32%) and India (+32%) – followed by traditional markets, with the growth in expenditure of travelers from Germany (+4%) and the USA (+5%) above the levels of previous years.
International tourism on course to hit one billon in 2012
UNWTO forecasts international tourism to continue growing in 2012 although at a slower rate. Arrivals are expected to increase by 3% to 4%, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year. Emerging economies will regain the lead with stronger growth in Asia and the Pacific and Africa (4% to 6%), followed by the Americas and Europe (2% to 4%). The Middle East (0% to +5%) is forecast to start to recover part of its losses from 2011.
These prospects are confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. The 400 UNWTO Panel of Experts from around the globe, expects the tourism sector to perform positively in 2012, though somewhat weaker than last year.
Governments urged to facilitate travel
As destinations worldwide look to stimulate travel demand under pressing economic conditions, UNWTO is urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation, an area in which in spite of the great strides made so far there is still much room for progress. UNWTO advises countries to make the most of information and communication technologies in improving visa application and processing formalities, as well as the timings of visa issuance, and to analyze the possible impact of travel facilitation in increasing their tourism economies.
“Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be key in boosting demand. This area is of particular relevance in a moment in which governments are looking to stimulate economic growth but cannot make major use of fiscal incentives or public investment,” said Mr. Rifai.