According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism receipts hit a new record in 2012, reaching an estimated US$ 1075 billion (euro 837 billion) worldwide, up 4% in real terms, from US$ 1042 billion (euro 749 billion) in 2011.
“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors” he added.
By regions, the Americas (+7%) recorded the largest increase in receipts, followed by Asia and the Pacific(+6%), Africa (+5%) and Europe (2%). Receipts in the Middle East were still down (-2%); yet report a steady improvement compared to the decline recorded in 2011.
In absolute values, Europe saw US$ 457 billion in tourism earnings (euro 356 bn) equivalent to 43% of the world’s total tourism receipts, the largest share by region. Destinations in Asia and the Pacific (US$ 323 billion or euro 251 bn) account for 30% of international tourism receipts and the Americas (US$ 215 billion or euro 167 bn) for 20%. In the Middle East (4% share) total tourism receipts reached US$ 47 billion (euro 36 bn) and in Africa (3% share) US$ 34 billion (euro 26 bn).
Except for international tourism receipts (the travel item in the Balance of Payments), tourism also generates export earnings through international passenger transport. The latter amounted to an estimated US$ 219 billion in 2012, bringing total receipts generated by international tourism to US$ 1.3 trillion, or US$ 3.5 billion a day on average.
International tourism (travel and passenger transport) 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 fifth after fuels, chemicals, food and automotive products, while ranking first in many developing countries.
Healthy growth in both advanced and emerging economy destinations
The top 10 ranking of destinations by receipts remained virtually unchanged in 2012, with the United States, Spain, France, China and Italy leading, followed by Macau (China), Germany, United Kingdom, Hong Kong (China) and Australia.
A number of the more mature destinations among the world’s top 10 earners showed remarkable results: the United States (+11%), France (+7%), Germany (+6%), the United Kingdom (+5%) and Hong Kong (China) (+14%). Other advanced economy destinations with growth rates of 10% or above include Sweden (+17%), Japan (+33%), the Republic of Korea (+14%) and Finland (+16%).
Among the emerging economy destinations highest receipts growth was reported by Thailand (+25%), India (+22%), Poland (+13%), South Africa (+18%), Egypt (+14%), Vietnam (+18%) and Ukraine (+13%).
Table 1: International Tourism by (Sub)Region
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.