Global Tourism Growth Surprises Even the UN’s World Tourism Organization

Skift Take

Tourism’s persistent growth in the face of a still slow economic environment and regional conflict indicates its importance in global economics moving forward — especially with rapidly growing economies leading the way in expenditure.

— Samantha Shankman

Tourism has secured its place in the global discussion of socio-economics and development within emerging economies as 2013 growth tops official projections.

Tourism grew five percent in the first half of 2013 and exceeded UWTO’s expectations by as much as 2 percent. An estimated 494 million travelers spent the night in a new destination so far this year, up 25 million tourists from the first six months of 2012, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

All regions and subregions reported positive growth with the Middle East and Asia leading the way. The impact of recent events are not reflected in the tourism growth from January to June and tourism is expected to drop significantly in the Middle East in the second half of 2013 due to political upheaval.

The number of overnight visitors remained unchanged in the Caribbean and South America making the Americas the most static of regions so far this year.

International Travel Spend

Emerging economies continue to lead the world in outbound tourism growth. International travel spend increased 31 percent among Chinese travelers, 22 percent among Russians, and 15 percent among Brazilian travelers.

This is explosive growth compared to the unchanged tourism expenditure from American, German, and UK markets as well as declining overseas spend from from Japanese, Italian, and Australian tourists.

Tourism growth in the first six months of 2013 is outlined by region below.

Tourism Growth 2013

An advance edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, below, was released for the UNWTO 20th General Assembly.

Download (PDF, 340KB)

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