Growth in international travel has been one of the most remarkably consistent worldwide trends. But the source of departures shifts over time, and it is important for travel business leaders to have a view into where the next generation of visitors are coming from.

Our below data visualization, which shows the 15 largest markets for outbound international departures over the last two decades, demonstrates that trends in outbound travel can change rapidly. China, for instance, rose to be the largest country for outbound departures in 2012.

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That means that established operators will have to update their standards for new languages and cultural expectations. It also means, in many cases, embracing new technologies and platforms, such as WeChat. A final corollary is that travel businesses which assume their source markets will remain unchanged will quickly be left behind.

For travel leaders who want to understand what the next decade of travel will look like, we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, Global Travel Economics 2019–2029. The report provides a forecast for outbound international tourism in 2024 and 2029. Our forecasts cover international departures for five major regions as well as many individual countries.

We believe that the next wave of international travelers will not look like the last, and this means that established travel players seeking growth will have to shift their focus to new markets. It’s also an opportunity for new local organizations to establish themselves on the world stage.

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