World Tourism Organisation says tourism accounts for about half of all global air passengers

UN World Tourism Organisation says tourism’s contribution to global climate change is about 5%.   If tourism were a country, it would be the 5th largest emitter worldwide, ahead of Germany (6th) and Canada (7th). About  75% of total tourism carbon emissions are from travel. Of this air travel  accounts for 40% of tourism’s contribution of CO2.  Around half of air passengers globally are tourists.  The number of air travellers is projected to double from 2007 to 2025 to more than 9 billion travellers a year. The industry would need to cut its carbon intensity in half by 2025 just to keep total emissions at 2007 levels.  Globally, the number of international tourists is thought likely to reach one billion during 2012 – so perhaps half a billion tourists in Europe.

Tourism relies on jet-setters, but travel is destroying attractions

 By Joe Kelly,
Vancouver Sun 
January 14, 2012
(extracts from a long article) at


Ironically, tourism is not just a victim of climate change but a sizable source of the problem. In terms of CO2 emissions, tourism’s contribution to global climate change is about 5%, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. If tourism were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter worldwide, ahead of Germany (sixth) and Canada (seventh).

By far, the biggest portion of tour-ism’s CO2 emissions is associated with travel. About three-quarters of the industry’s emissions are generated from visitor travel to and from the destination, UNWTO says. Air travel in particular accounts for 40% of tourism’s contribution of CO2 and is the dominant source of emissions for medium-and long-haul travel.

Here lies the rub. Travel is a fundamental prerequisite of tourism – you can’t bring the beach to you, after all. Yet it is this journey that contributes to climate change the most. Richard Chartres, bishop of London, has gone so far as to suggest that “making selfish choices such as flying on holiday . are a symptom of sin.” Ouch! So much for that dream vacation to Thailand.

While some destinations have begun to take ambitious steps to reduce greenhouse gases, the scale of these reductions is often dwarfed by travelrelated emissions.

In Whistler, where sustainability is practically ingrained in the DNA, visitor travel accounts for roughly 86 per cent of the resort’s carbon footprint (about 78 per cent is from aviation). What this means is any local strategy to reduce emissions will only be a drop in the bucket in terms of minimizing the destination’s actual carbon impact.

For the most part, reducing the emissions from travel is beyond the influence of the destination. It is also improbable that destination marketing organizations will shift their marketing focus from “higher spending” distant markets to “lower yielding” regional markets because of potential opportunities to reduce emissions from air travel.

There is hope that the “sin” of air travel could be saved by technology. Looking into the future, a blended wing body aircraft design could be at least 30-per-cent more efficient than conventional airplanes. Fuel substitutes, such as blending algae fuels with existing jet fuel, could reduce flight emissions by 60-to-80 per cent. Eventually, liquid hydrogen produced from renewable sources could pro-vide a near zero-emission solution for air travel. However, the technological improvements needed to curb air travel impacts are decades away from happening. Large commercial hydro-gen aircraft, for instance, could be built by 2020 but will probably not enter service until closer to 2040.

In the meantime, rapid growth in air travel continues. The number of air travellers is projected to double from 2007 to 2025 to more than nine billion travellers a year. The industry would need to cut its carbon intensity in half by 2025 just to keep total emissions at 2007 levels.

This would be an improvement of 4% a year for an industry that historically achieves 2%. Not impossible, but very optimistic. For the foreseeable future, technology won’t likely provide a “silver bullet” – not in aviation anyway.

So what can an environmentally conscious travel bug do, short of rerouting that dream vacation to Thailand to a local camping trip in the Interior?

……… and it continues ……..

Joe Kelly teaches in the faculty of tourism and outdoor recreation at Capilano University.



UNWTO – Tourism Highlights –  2011 Edition – Facts and Figures for lots of detail.

In 2010, travel for leisure, recreation and holidays accounted for just over half of all international tourist arrivals (51% or 480 million arrivals).

Some 15% of international tourists reported travelling for business and professional purposes and another 27% travelled for other purposes, such as visiting friends and relatives (VFR), religious reasons and pilgrimages, health treatment, etc.

The purpose of visit for the remaining 7% of arrivals was not specified.  Slightly over half of travellers arrived at their destination by air transport (51%) in 2010, while the remainder travelled over the surface (49%) – whether by road (41%), rail (2%), or over water (6%).

Over time, the trend has been for air transport to grow at a faster pace than surface transport, so the share of air transport is gradually increasing

See also
UN World Tourism Organisation press release

International tourism to reach one billion in 2012

Madrid   16 Jan 12

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.


IATA said (Feb 2011)

The industry consensus forecast released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicates that by 2014 there will be 3.3 billion air travelers, up by 800 million from the 2.5 billion in 2009.

  • International passenger numbers
     are expected to rise from 952 million in 2009 to 1.3 billion passengers in 2014. This 313 million traveler increase reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9%.
  • The fastest growing markets for international passenger traffic will be China (10.8%), the United Arab Emirates (10.2%), Vietnam (10.2%), Malaysia (10.1%) and Sri Lanka (9.5%).
  • By 2014, the top five countries for international travel measured by number of passengers will be the United States (at 215 million, an increase of 45 million), the United Kingdom (at 198 million with an increase of 33 million), Germany (at 163 million with an increase of 29 million), Spain (123 million with an increase of 21 million), and France (111 million with an increase of 21 million).
  • Domestic passenger numbers are expected to rise from 1.5 billion in 2009 to over 2 billion in 2014. This 488 million passenger increase reflects a CAGR of 5.7%.
  • China will record the highest CAGR of 13.9% and contribute an additional 181 million passengers. Other countries with double digit growth include Vietnam (10.9%), South Africa (10.6%), India (10.5%), and the Philippines (10.2%).
  • By 2014 the five largest markets for domestic passengers will be the United States (671 million), China (379 million), Japan (102 million), Brazil (90 million) and India (69 million).
  • The focus of the industry continues to shift eastward. By 2014, 1 billion people will travel by air in Asia Pacific. That’s 30% of the global total and a 4 percentage point increase from the 26% it represented in 2009.