International tourist arrivals grew 7% in 2017, the highest increase since 2010, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s latest collection of Tourism Highlights. Growth in arrivals was echoed by a strong increase in exports generated by tourism, which reached USD 1.6 trillion in 2017, making tourism the world’s third-largest export sector.
- International tourist arrivals grew 7% in 2017, the highest increase since 2010, according to the World Tourism Organization;
- The ‘UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition’ shows international tourist arrivals reached 1,323 million in 2017, 84 million more than the previous year and a new record;
- The international tourism sector has now seen uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years and generated USD1.3 trillion in destination receipts;
- China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent USD258 billion on international tourism in 2017.
The ‘UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition’ shows that international tourist arrivals reached a total of 1,323 million in 2017, some 84 million more than the previous year and a new record. The sector has now seen uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years. 2017’s growth was the highest since 2010, led by the regions of Europe and Africa, which received increases in arrivals of +8% and +9%, respectively. By sub-region, North Africa and Southern and Mediterranean Europe led results in 2017, reflecting strong demand for destinations along the Mediterranean.
International tourism receipts increased by 5% in 2017. In addition to the USD1.3 trillion in receipts that destinations earned, international tourism generated another USD240 billion from international passenger transport taken by non-residents. This raised total tourism exports to USD1.6 trillion, or USD4 billion a day, which corresponds to 7% of the world’s exports.
By region, the Middle East led growth in receipts, as some destinations rebounded strongly after weaker results in 2016. By sub-region, growth was significant in South Asia and South-East Asia, as well as in Southern Mediterranean Europe and North Africa.
UNWTO says these strong results for the year were driven by “sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions,” including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years. Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations.
The new annual report from UNWTO also illustrates that China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent USD258 billion on international tourism in 2017. This is almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017, which stood at USD1.3 trillion, some USD94 billion more than in 2016.
READ MORE… Download the ‘UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition‘ report.
Elsewhere, tourism expenditure from the United States, the world’s second largest source market, increased by USS13 billion compared to 2016 (+9%), the largest increase in absolute terms among the top spenders. The Russian Federation also rebounded strongly (+30%) after a few years of decline, while South Korea, Italy and Canada were other top ten source markets to record particularly strong results.
Among the top markets and destinations in the world, in 2017 Spain rose to become the world’s second most-visited destination in terms of international arrivals, after France. Japan entered the top ten in tourism earnings in tenth place after six straight years of double-digit growth, albeit this rise has been influenced by China moving down from 5th to 12th place owing to a revision in methodology. The Russian Federation re-entered the top ten of world spenders at eighth place.
When ranking the world’s top international tourism destinations, it is important to consider both international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts. Seven out of the top ten destinations appear on both lists, despite showing marked differences in terms of the type of tourist they attract, as well as the average length of stay and spending per trip and the night.
Available data from UNWTO for early 2018 confirms that international tourism’s strong growth has continued into 2018 with a year-on-year increase of +6% in arrivals between January and April.