The FINANCIAL -- In 2011, world tourism continued to rebound from the
setbacks of 2008-2009, in a year marked by persistent economic
turbulence, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa,
and the natural disaster in Japan.
Worldwide, international tourist arrivals (i.e. overnight visitors) grew
by 4.6% in 2011 to 983 million, up from 940 million in 2010 when
arrivals increased by 6.4%.
The majority of destinations around the world that had not exceeded pre-crisis levels in 2010, did so in 2011. Contrary to the long-term trend, advanced economies (+4.9%) posted higher growth than emerging economies (+4.3%), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa. Europe and Asia and the Pacific (both +6%) were the fastest-growing regions in terms of tourist arrivals in 2011.
- Georgia showed the highest relative increase among the emerging destinations
Europe grew above expectations, despite continuing economic uncertainty, while arrivals in Asia and the Pacific increased at a slower pace over 2010, partly due to the temporary decline in the Japanese outbound market. Arrivals in the Americas (+4%) were boosted by South America (+9%), which continued to lead growth in the region for the second consecutive year.
Popular uprisings in a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East during 2011 took a toll on tourism in both regions. Africa (+1%) recorded only a slight increase, due to the loss of visitors in North Africa, while the Middle East saw an 8% decline in arrivals.
Most travel by air and for the purpose of leisure
In 2011, travel for leisure, recreation and holidays accounted for just over half of all international tourist arrivals (51% or 505 million arrivals). Some 15% of international tourists reported travelling for business and professional purposes and another 27% travelled for other purposes, such as visiting friends and relatives (VFR), religious reasons and pilgrimages, health treatment, etc. The purpose of visit for the remaining 7% of arrivals was not specified.
Slightly over half of travellers arrived at their destination by air transport (51%) in 2011, while the remainder travelled over the surface (49%) – whether by road (41%), rail (2%), or over water (6%). Over time, the trend has been for air transport to grow at a somewhat faster pace than surface transport, so the share of air transport is gradually increasing.
International tourism receipts surpass US$ 1 trillion in 2011
In 2011, international tourism receipts reached a record US$ 1,030 billion (euro 740 bn), up from 927 billion (euro 699 bn) in 2010. This represents a 3.9% growth in real terms (adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation), while international tourist arrivals increased by 4.6% in 2011 to 983 million. This confirms the strong correlation between both indicators, with growth in receipts tending to lag slightly behind growth in arrivals in times of economic constraints.
- Tourism experts believe that green innovation in tourism can drive sustainable development by reducing costs, boosting revenue, creating jobs and improving resource efficiency.
By region, the Americas (+5.7%) recorded the largest increase in receipts in 2011, followed by Europe (+5.2%), Asia and the Pacific (+4.4%) and Africa (+2.2%). The Middle East was the only region posting negative growth (-14%).
Europe holds the largest share of international tourism receipts (45% share), reaching US$ 463 billion (euro 333 bn) in 2011, followed by Asia and the Pacific (28% share or US$ 289 billion / euro 208 bn), and the Americas (19% share or US$ 199 billion /euro 143 bn). The Middle East (4% share) earned US$ 46 billion (euro 33 bn) and Africa (3% share) US$ 33 billion (euro 23 bn).
Visitor expenditure on accommodation, food and drink, local transport, entertainment and shopping, is an important contributor to the economy of many destinations, creating much needed employment and opportunities for development. In 2011, both emerging and advanced destinations reported significant increases in receipts. For some 85 countries, receipts from international tourism were over US$ 1 billion in 2011.
For destination countries, receipts from international tourism count as exports and cover transactions generated by same-day as well as overnight visitors. However, these do not include receipts from international passenger transport contracted from companies outside the travellers’ countries of residence, which are reported in a separate category (International Passenger Transport).
The export value of international passenger transport is estimated at US$ 196 billion (euro 141 bn) in 2011, up from US$ 170 billion (euro 131 bn) in 2010. As such, total receipts from international tourism, including international passenger transport, reached US$ 1.2 trillion (euro 841 bn) in 2011. In other words, international tourism contributes US$ 3.4 billion (euro 2.4 bn) a day to global export earnings.
Turkey climbs one place to sixth in the ranking
The top 10 ranking by international tourist arrivals saw only a minor change in 2011. Turkey moved up one position to sixth place (with 29 million tourists) overtaking the United Kingdom. There were no changes in the top 10 ranking by tourism receipts. When ranking the world’s major destinations for international tourism, it is always preferable to take more than a single indicator into account. Ranked according to the two key tourism indicators – international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts – eight of the top ten destinations appear on both lists, despite showing marked differences in terms of the type of tourists they attract, their average length of stay and their spending per trip and per night. In the case of international tourism receipts, changes not only reflect relative performance, but also (to a considerable extent) exchange rate fluctuations of national currencies against the US dollar.
France continues to lead the ranking of international tourist arrivals (79 million), and ranks third in receipts (US$ 54 billion), while the United States ranks first in receipts (US$ 116 billion) and second in arrivals (62 million).
Spain is still the second largest earner worldwide and the first in Europe (US$ 60 billion), while ranking fourth in the world by arrivals (57 million). China continues to rank third in arrivals (58 million) and fourth in receipts (US$ 48 billion), while Italy remains in fifth place in both arrivals (46 million) and receipts (US$ 43 billion).
Turkey moved up one place to sixth in arrivals and is twelfth in receipts.
The United Kingdom is seventh in both arrivals and receipts.
Germany continues to rank eighth in tourist arrivals and sixth in receipts, while Malaysia is ninth and fourteenth respectively.
Australia, Macao (China), and Hong Kong (China) complete the top ten ranking by receipts in eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively, while Mexico closes the top ten by arrivals in tenth position.
Europe – surpasses the half a billion mark in arrivals
In 2011, Europe exceeded expectations with 6% growth in international tourist arrivals, making it the fastest-growing region together with Asia and the Pacific. Despite persistent economic uncertainty, tourist arrivals to Europe reached 504 million in 2011, accounting for 29 million of the 43 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Results were boosted by Central and Eastern Europe, and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (both +8%). In terms of earnings, Europe holds the largest share of international tourism receipts (45%), reaching US$ 463 billion (euro 333 bn) in 2011, and representing a 5% increase in real terms as compared to 2010.
The robust growth of international tourist arrivals in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (19% share of world tourism) was mostly driven by the larger destinations: Greece (+10%), Turkey (+9%), Portugal (+9%), Croatia (+9%), Spain (+8%) and Italy (+6%). Other smaller destinations recorded double-digit growth such as San Marino (+30%), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (+25%), Serbia (+12%), Montenegro and Cyprus (both +10%).
Although part of the growth in Southern Mediterranean Europe resulted from a shift in traffic away from the Middle East and North Africa, destinations in the Mediterranean also profited from improved outbound flows from markets such as Scandinavia, Germany and the Russian Federation. In Central and Eastern Europe (+8%), major destinations such as the Russian Federation (+12%) and Poland (+7%) contributed to the buoyant subregional results.
Georgia (+39%) showed the highest relative increase among the emerging destinations, continuing a trend of rapid growth in recent years. Azerbaijan (+22%) and Kazakhstan (+21%) also posted strong growth, followed by the Republic of Moldova (+18%), Estonia (+16%), Romania (+13%), Armenia (+11%) and Slovakia (+10%).
In Northern Europe (+6%), Scandinavian countries such as Iceland (+16%) and Finland (+14%) recorded double-digit growth, followed by Norway which experienced a 9% increase in arrivals over 2010. The United Kingdom, the subregion’s largest destination, recorded a 3% increase in arrivals after a flat 2010. Ireland also returned to positive growth, growing by 8% (a consolidated figure is yet to be reported).
Western Europe (+3%), experienced comparatively more modest growth, with 5 million more arrivals in 2011. Larger destinations such as Germany (+6%) and Austria (+5%) showed a solid performance, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium (both +4%) and France (+3%).
Bhutan (+39%), Sri Lanka (+31%) and Nepal (+22%) boasted the highest growth in South Asia (+8%), followed by Maldives (+18%). India, the largest destination in the subregion, recorded a 9% increase. Growth was comparatively lower in North-East Asia (+4%) owing to the drop in arrivals in Japan (-28%) and the temporary disruption of Japanese outbound travel, with expenditure on international tourism down by 11% in 2011.
In contrast, both the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong (China) posted an 11% increase in arrivals, while China saw more modest growth (+3%). Oceania (+1%) saw only a slight increase last year, with Australia, the largest destination, recording zero growth, and New Zealand a modest 3%.