Over the past six decades tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world.
Many new destinations have emerged, challenging the traditional ones of Europe and North America. Despite occasional shocks, international tourist arrivals have shown virtually uninterrupted growth – from 277 million in 1980 to 528 million in 1995, and passing the 1 billion mark in December 2012. As global economic recovery took hold and departures from the emerging economies continued to show strong growth, this figure rose to 1.087 billion international arrivals in 2013.
UNWTO’s long-term outlook and assessment of future tourism trends is positive. The number of international tourist arrivals worldwide is expected to increase by 3.3% a year on average from 2010 to 2030. This represents some 43 million more international tourist arrivals every year, reaching a total of 1.8 billion arrivals by 2030.
As an internationally traded service, inbound tourism has become one of the world’s major trade categories. The overall export income generated by inbound tourism, including passenger transport, exceeded US$ 1.3 trillion in 2012, accounting for as much as 9% of global GDP.
The highest growth rates in expenditure on international travel in recent years have come from emerging economies. For some 90 countries, receipts from international tourism were over US$ 1 billion in 2012. Spending is classed as expenditure on international tourism before departure, including contracted transport.
The top 5 countries by expenditure on international tourism in 2013 are as follows