International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in the first nine months of the year, to reach a record 845 million worldwide, an estimated 41 million more than in the same period of 2012. Growth was driven by Europe and Asia and the Pacific, both seeing tourist numbers increase by 6%.
“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “It is particularly encouraging to see the strong results in many European destinations, where the tourism sector is, undoubtedly, one of the engines of the economic recovery”.
Europe beats expectations
In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrivals grew by 6% led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7% a year between 2000 and 2012).
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) continued to show robust results, bolstered by South-East Asia (+12%).
The Americas (+3%) reported comparatively weaker results, with better performance in North America (+4%) and Central America and (+3%).
In Africa (+5%) growth was fuelled by the recovery in North Africa (+6%), while the Middle East saw only a marginal increase (+0.3%).
Growth in tourism receipts confirms positive trend
The positive trend registered in international tourist arrivals is reflected in international tourism receipts reported by destinations worldwide for the first six to ten months of the year.
Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations - the United States (+11%), Macao (China) (+10%), the United Kingdom (+18%), Thailand (+28%), Hong Kong (China) (+21%), Turkey (+13%), India (+13%), Japan (+23%), Greece (+15%) and Taiwan (Pr. of China) (+12%).
Exponential growth in outbound expenditure by China and Russia
Among the top ten source markets, the Russian Federation led growth, with expenditure on trips abroad up by 29% in the first nine months of the year. This follows the strong growth in recent years, as a result of which Russia has moved up from the 12th largest outbound market in 2000 to the 5th largest in 2012 (US$ 43 billion).
China, which became the number one source market in the world last year (US$ 102 billion), also continued to see rapid growth, posting a 22% increase in expenditure on outbound tourism through September 2013.
Outbound expenditure from other BRIC economies was also strong in Brazil (+15%). The performance of advanced economy source markets was comparatively weaker: Canada (+3%), the United States (+2%), the United Kingdom (+2%) and France (+2%) grew moderately, while Germany reported zero growth and Japan, Australia and Italy saw declines in expenditure.
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