International tourism strong in stable regions of the world

United Nations World Tourism Organization 2014 publication reflects on tourism data.

Awareness of the international trends and implications of tourism can help us to understand and shape tourism in our communities, states and countries. The World Tourism Organization, an agency of the United Nations, is “responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism” and “serves as a global forum for tourism policy and a source of tourism know-how.” They document tourism facts and figures annually by region and country in a report that reflect the significance of the industry globally with long-term outlooks, projected changes, and a review of the previous year’s statistics and figures (decades are highlighted as well).

The bulk of the report highlights a number of areas, such as international tourism arrivals, percentage of market share, statistics on international tourism expenditures and a number of other significant global figures.

General Key figures highlighted from 2013’s report have not fluctuated all that much. The UNWTO still considers that-

  • One in 11 jobs worldwide is in the tourism industry
  • Tourism accounts for nine percent of the GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact)
  • Tourism is responsible for the six percent of the world’s exports

However, International Tourism Arrivals numbers have changed between nations vying for tourism dollars (UNWTO, 2014).

  • International Tourism Arrivals have climbed for every region except the Middle East where numbers slid slightly below figures from 2012 and have declined consistently since 2010.
  • Europe, Asia and the Pacific, as well as the Americas and Africa saw an increase in international numbers.
    • Europe saw the largest growth of nearly 29 million.
    • Asia & the Pacific came up second with an additional 15 million more visitors than the previous year (2012), which gave them nearly 23 percent of the market share in 2013.
  • Both Africa and the Americas combined make up 20 percent of the market share (2013), with roughly 75 percent of that share representing the Americas.

This report would not be as attractive if it did not address the World’s Top Tourism Destinations (pg. 6). Compared to 2012’s report on international tourist arrivals, not a great deal has changed.

  • Spain climbed back to third place which it had lost to China in 2010 (61 million arrivals vs. 56 million).
  • Thailand, also known as the Land of Smiles, climbed five positions amazingly this year to tenth place. (The previous year it was fifteenth.)
  • The ranking for the countries with the most international tourist arrivals are as follow:
    1. France (still to be reported at the time of publication, but ranked #1 by the UNWTO report)
    2. United States (69.8 million)
    3. Spain (60.7 million)
    4. China (55.7 million)
    5. Italy (47.7 million)
    6. Turkey (37.8 million)
    7. Germany (31.5 million)
    8. United Kingdom (31.2 million)
    9. Russian Federation (28.4 million)
    10. Thailand (26.5 million)

International Tourism Expenditure (U.S. $ Billion)

This year saw some changes in top spenders in international tourism. China found itself again in first place this year where it also ranked in 2012 too. China’s expenditure increased nearly 27 billion U.S. dollars in this one year alone. The United States ranked second, Germany at third, Russian Federation at fourth, with United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia and Italy to follow in ninth. The much talked about and anticipated South American country, Brazil, entered the top 10 resting in at tenth place expenditures reaching 25.1 Billion (13 percent increase from 2012).

U.N. report and publications are full of relevant information about countries and economies impacted by tourism. While focused on key trends in international tourism by region and nation, the 2014 report does also focus on “purpose of visit” as well. Knowing tourists’ purpose can help communities and countries to know their customer better and perhaps help shape new and more efficient services and business, which may lead to stronger economies and communities.

UNWTO Tourism Highlights and other publications dating as far back as 2010 are available.

Tourism is a major industry for Michigan, one that contributes significantly to the State’s economy and number of jobs. Michigan State University Extension works with local communities throughout the state to identify strengths and assets to leverage for tourism.

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