27 June 2014

UNWTO report reflects on worldwide tourism trends

In its latest report, the UNWTO, the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, reflects on worldwide industry trends during 2013, predictions for 2014 and tourism growth in the long term.

The UNWTO 2014 Tourism Highlights document reflects on worldwide industry trends and tourism growth in the long term

Worldwide arrivals are expected to increase by 3.3% a year from 2010 to 2030 to reach 1.8-billion by 2030. – UNWTO: Tourism Towards 2030

Here are some of the highlights:

A retrospective of the tourism industry over the past six decades reveals substantial growth and diversification, confirming tourism as one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors worldwide.

Statistics reveal 'virtually uninterrupted growth' in international tourist arrivals worldwide, from 25-million in 1950 to 278-million in 1980, 528-million in 1995, and 1.087-billion in 2013. Despite a dampened global economy, demand for international tourism has exceeded expectation, with an additional 52-million international tourists travelling worldwide in 2013.

According to UNWTO’s long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, 'worldwide arrivals are expected to increase by 3.3% a year from 2010 to 2030 to reach 1.8-billion by 2030'.

It’s interesting to note a shift in travel trends between emerging destinations and advanced economies. Between 2010 and 2030, arrivals in emerging destinations are expected to increase by 4.4% per annum, while arrivals in the latter are only expected to increase by half that amount.

The market share of emerging economies, which increased from 30% in 1980 to 47% in 2013, is expected to reach 57% by 2030. In people terms, this translates to more than one billion international tourist arrivals.

Key trends and an overview of international tourism during 2013 reveal a 5% growth in international tourist arrivals during 2013 to a record 1.087-billion, with the billion-mark having been surpassed in 2012.

Regions recording the highest arrivals growth of 6% were Asia and the Pacific, followed by Europe and Africa at 5%. The Americas showed 3% growth, while the Middle East remained static.

On the revenue side, international tourism receipts totalled US$1 159-billion worldwide in 2013, up from US$1 078-billion in 2012.

'With a 5% increase in real terms, the growth in international tourism receipts equalled the growth in arrivals,' the report says.

China remains the leading source of tourism, with Chinese travellers spending the equivalent of US$129-billion on international travel during 2013.

With 5% growth doubling the region’s average for the period 2005 to 2012, Europe saw 29-million more tourists in 2013, raising the visitor total to 563-million.

Asia and the Pacific recorded the fastest relative growth, with a 6% increase in international arrivals, 14-million more than in 2012.

Africa saw an increase of 5%, or three million more tourists, for a total of 56-million.

In the Americas, international arrivals grew by 3% to 168-million, an increase of five million.

According to the UNWTO, forecasts for 2014 point to expected growth of 4% to 4.5% in international tourist arrivals, which exceeds its long-term Tourism Towards 2030 prediction of 3.3% growth per year.

From a regional perspective, prospects for 2014 appear strongest for Asia and the Pacific at 5% to 6%, followed by Africa at 4% to 6%.

Europe and the Americas are expected to grow by 3% to 4%, while prospects for the Middle East remain 'positive, yet volatile' at 0% to 5%.

  • Click here to download the report