Exports generated by international tourism reached USD 1.7 trillion in 2018

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Exports generated by international tourism reached USD 1.7 trillion in 2018, a 4% increase in real terms over the previous year, a new report from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows. For the seventh year in a row, tourism exports grew faster than merchandise exports (+3%), reflecting solid demand for international travel in a generally robust economic environment.

Strong growth in outbound travel from many source markets around the world fuelled revenues from international tourism to reach a total USD 1.7 trillion. This accounts for 29% of global service exports and 7% of overall exports of goods and services. These figures consolidate international tourism among the top five economic sectors in the world, behind chemical manufacturing and the fuel industry but ahead of the food and automotive industries.

Exports From International Tourism Hit USD 1.7 Trillion

“Rather than growing in volume we need to grow in value. We are pleased to see that both emerging and advanced economies around the world are benefiting from rising tourism income,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “Revenues from international tourism translate into jobs, entrepreneurship and a better situation for people and local economies, while reducing trade deficits in many countries” he added.

Total exports from international tourism include USD 1,448 billion in international tourism receipts (visitor spending in destinations) and USD 256 billion in international passenger transport services. Tourism constitutes a key source of foreign exchange and a major tool for export diversification for many destinations.

International tourism receipts increased 4% in real terms (adjusting for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation) to reach USD 1,448 billion in 2018, about USD 100 billion more than the previous year. This is consistent with the 6% increase in international tourist arrivals in 2018.

International tourism remains strong in the first four months of 2018
International tourist arrivals grew 6% in January-April 2018 compared to the same period last year.
Results reflect a continuation of the strong trend seen in 2017 (+7%) and so far exceed UNWTO’s forecast of 4% to 5% for the year 2018.
Growth in the first four months of 2018 was led by Asia and the Pacific (+8%) and Europe (+7%), while Africa (+6%), the Middle East (+4%) and the Americas (+3%) also recorded sound results.
Confidence in global tourism remains strong according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts survey. The Panel’s outlook for the current May-August period is one the most optimistic in a decade, led by the particularly upbeat sentiment in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
International tourism receipts grew 5% in 2017
International tourism receipts increased 5% in 2017 in real terms (local currencies at constant prices) to reach US$ 1,332 billion globally, some US$ 94 billion more than in 2016. Results are consistent with the solid trend in international tourist arrivals, which grew 7% in 2017.
The Middle East led growth in tourism receipts with a 13% increase in 2017, followed by Africa and Europe which both recorded 8% growth. Receipts grew 3% in Asia and the Pacific and 1% in the Americas. Europe recorded the highest growth in absolute terms, with an increase of US$ 50 billion to reach US$ 512 billion, or 38% of the world’s international tourism receipts.
By regions, Asia and the Pacific led the way with 7% growth in international tourism receipts, followed by Europe with a 5% increase. The Middle East saw 3% growth, while Africa (+1%) and the Americas (0%) recorded more modest results. Central and Eastern Europe and North-East Asia (both +9%) were the subregions with the strongest growth.

France and Russia lead growth among top spenders

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Growth in receipts was fuelled by strong demand for international travel in the context of a robust global economy.

Among the world’s top ten source markets, France and the Russian Federation both recorded 11% growth in outbound spending in 2018, while Australia saw a 10% increase.

China, the world’s top spender reported USD 277 billion in international tourism expenditure in 2018, a 5% increase in real terms from a year earlier, while the United States, the second largest, spent 7% more, to reach USD 144 billion.

International expenditure from the United Kingdom grew 3% in 2018, and 4% from Italy, while Germany and the Republic of Korea both reported rather flat results. Further down the ranking, Spain enjoyed 12% higher spending on international tourism in 2018.


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