Destinations

The world’s fastest growing countries in travel

@rafat

Mar 13, 2013 5:00 am

Skift Take

Kyrgyzstan is big on our list of countries to go to in 2013, what’s yours?

— Rafat Ali

Free Report: The State of Student Travel

DamienHR  / Flickr.com

The fast growing skyline of Doha, Qatar. DamienHR / Flickr.com


The locus of travel has rapidly moved eastward, and 2013 and beyond continues that inexorable journey. Both consumer and business travel trends are now being defined and tested out in regions other than U.S. and Europe. User experience and its intersection with design is the lens that travel will increasingly be defined by, and regions like Middle East, Asia and West Africa are at the forefront of those trends. We talked about this at length in our report earlier this year: “13 Global Trends That Will Define Travel in 2013.”

And now data from World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) backs that up. In its annual “Economic Impact Research,” it has come up with data on the world’s fastest growing countries in travel and tourism, calibrating against GDP contribution, employment growth, business and leisure travel growth, investment and other metrics.

Some of the countries on the list will surprise you at first glance, but on deeper dive, make sense:

  • The boom in the top few countries on the list — especially Qatar and Azerbaijan — is driven by oil/natural gas and construction. It’s understandable that travel is growing.
  • Qatar is also being driven by its new geopolitical prominence, based on the back of its worldwide sovereign wealth spending spree.
  • The mining boom — or speculators hoping for it — in central Asian countries like Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan are driving the travel economies there.
  • Peel back the layers on many of these countries, and a big reason for the growth in travel would point to one reason: China. The Asian giant has been buying its way into the emerging countries in Asia and Africa, especially in infrastructure development. That would explain the rise in travel industry as a result.
  • Some countries like Thailand, Oman, and Cape Verde are experiencing genuine tourism-driven growth, with less geopolitical implications than others on the list.

A big caveat here: With few exceptions all of these countries are growing this fast from a very small base where the travel and tourism industry is in its infancy. The absolute numbers may not be huge currently, but long term projections until 2023 even out some of these biases, and that’s why you see countries like China and India appear in this.

Fastest growing: Direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Qatar 28.3 Namibia 9.7
Azerbaijan 24.8 China 8.7
Kyrgyzstan 24 Montenegro 8.1
Tunisia 14.2 India 7.8
Montenegro 13.9 Gabon 7.8
Uzbekistan 13.7 Angola 7.4
Kazakhstan 11.5 Zambia 7.3
Belarus 11.5 Cambodia 7
Chile 11.1 Mongolia 6.9
Jordan 11 Philippines 6.9

Fastest growing: Direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment  in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Kyrgyzstan 24.8 Gabon 8.4
Azerbaijan 24 Namibia 7.6
Qatar 19.9 Tonga 7
Montenegro 15.9 Montenegro 5.3
Aruba 15.6 Cape Verde 4.6
Tunisia 14.3 Thailand 4.5
Sudan and South Sudan 12.8 Cyprus 4.5
Thailand 12.5 Sierra Leone 4.5
Fiji 12.3 Iran 4.4
Singapore 12.3 Canada 4.4

Fastest growing: Domestic spending on Travel & Tourism in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Qatar 12 Mongolia 9.4
Lesotho 11.6 Sao Tome and Principe 9.3
Zambia 11 Angola 8.9
Congo 10.9 China 8.8
Gabon 10.4 Azerbaijan 8.7
Mozambique 10.3 India 8.3
Botswana 10.3 Zambia 7.9
Oman 10.1 Gabon 7.9
Kazakhstan 10.1 Kyrgyzstan 7.8
Chile 9.6 Rwanda 7.7

Fastest growing: Visitor exports in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Azerbaijan 56.4 Brazil 13.4
Belarus 39.7 Venezuela 9.1
Qatar 36.7 Philippines 8.7
Kyrgyzstan 34.5 Nambia 8.4
Uzbekistan 32.5 Thailand 8
Japan 31.6 Peru 8
Myanmar 27.8 Indonesia 7.8
Venezuela 23.5 Argentina 7.8
Tunisia 22.9 Nicaragua 7.6
South Korea 21.4 Lithuania 7.6

Fastest growing: Spending on business travel in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Azerbaijan 34.6 Gabon 12.7
Qatar 27.5 Serbia 11.3
Cape Verde 26 Mongolia 9.2
Singapore 24.4 Malaysia 8.8
Philippines 23.7 Latvia 8.3
South Korea 19.1 Cambodia 8
Thailand 17.6 Nicaragua 7.9
Kyrgyzstan 15.9 Brunei 7.8
Romania 15.7 Lebanon 7.7
Armenia 13.4 Zambia 7.6

Fastest growing: Spending on leisure travel in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Qatar 29.9 Angola 9.7
Kyrgyzstan 26.9 China 9.1
Vanuatu 21.6 India 7.9
Azerbaijan 21.3 Namibia 7.8
Belarus 18 Thailand 7.2
Tunisia 16.4 Philippines 6.9
Uzbekistan 16.3 Vietnam 6.8
Kazakhstan 11.6 Montenegro 6.7
Jordan 10.7 Cape Verde 6.7
Chile 10.7 Mongolia 6.6

Fastest growing: Capital investment in Travel and Tourism in 2012 (left) and forecast from 2013 – 2023 (right)

Countries 2012 Growth (%) Countries 2013 – 2023 Growth (%)
Botswana 21.9 Montenegro 10
Armenia 21.7 China 9.2
Thailand 19.6 Zambia 9
Ivory Coast 19.2 Thailand 8.1
Malaysia 18.4 Gambia 8
Cambodia 18.2 Cape Verde 7.9
Qatar 16.9 Macau 7.8
Malawi 15.5 Pakistan 7.8
Hong Kong 15.1 Brazil 7.8
Congo 13.9 Iraq 7.6

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