The first six months of 2010 saw international
tourist arrivals grow by 7% according to the August Interim Update
of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
This result confirms the recovery trend
beginning in the last quarter of 2009 and is expected to continue
in the second half of the year at a somewhat more moderate rate.
Asia and the Middle East
International tourist arrivals are estimated to
have grown by 7% in the first half of 2010. While growth was
modest in April as a consequence of the closure of European
airspace following the eruption of a
volcano in Iceland, results were strong in May (+10%) and June
(+8%). Data available for July indicates that growth is set to
continue at a steady rate.
Growth was positive in all world regions, led by
a robust performance of emerging economies expanding at 8%
compared to 6% in advanced economies. Asia and the Pacific (+14%)
and the Middle East (+20%), where results were already positive in
the second half of 2009, continue to lead growth in the first half
of 2010 with the majority of destinations in both regions posting
double digit growth rates.
Asia in particular is
experiencing a very dynamic rebound, with strong results from Sri
Lanka (+49%), Japan (+36%), Vietnam (+35%), Myanmar (+35%), Hong
Kong (China) (+23%), Macao (China) (+23%), Singapore (+23%), Fiji
(+22%) and the Maldives (+21%). Thailand (+14%) posted encouraging
results in spite of the political unrest early this year.
previous occasions, such as the Asian financial and economic
crisis (1997-1998), the SARS outbreak (2003), and the Tsunami
(2004), Asia has once again shown a strong capacity for recovery.
International tourism has been a driving force in a region -
currently the second most visited region in the world,- with 181
million international tourist arrivals (21% of world total) and
international tourism receipts of US$ 204 billion (24% of world
total) in 2009.
In the Americas (+7%), Central and South
America show steady growth, as does North America. Growth has been
slower in the Caribbean but results are still markedly improved as
compared to 2008 and 2009. Europe (+2%) shows the slowest recovery
but results from recent months are slightly more positive.
Although recovery has not yet returned to Northern Europe, both
Western and Southern Mediterranean Europe show reasonable growth.
Africa (+7%), the only region to grow in 2009, maintained this
momentum during the first half of 2010.
tourism receipts are expected to lag somewhat behind arrivals in
many destinations. Following major shocks, volume (arrivals) tends
to recover faster than income (receipts) as travellers travel
closer to home, for shorter periods of time and seek value for
money, while on the supply side increased competition has been
driving prices down. This was also the case following the Asian
economic and financial crisis and after the 11 September 2001
UNWTO Forecasts Continued
Overall, international tourist arrivals
totalled 421 million during the first six months of 2010, up 7% on
2009, but still 2% below that of the record year of 2008 (428
million arrivals in the same period). These results follow one of
the toughest years for the tourism sector with international
tourist arrivals declining by 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million and
international tourism receipts reaching US$ 852 billion (€611
billion), a decrease in real terms of 5.7%. The return of growth
must be thus viewed with caution given that it compares with a
very weak period of 2009.
Nevertheless, many destinations
are setting new records, leaving behind the losses of 2009 and
exceeding the 2008 levels. Compared to the first half of 2008, six
sub-regions show growth: Sub-Saharan Africa (+16%), North Africa
(+12%), North-East Asia (+7%), South Asia (+7%), South-East Asia
(+5%) and South America (+4%).
For 2010, UNWTO maintains
its initial forecast of international tourist arrivals growing by
3% to 4%. Current growth rates, coupled with an improving global
economic environment suggest that end-year results are likely to
be closer to 4%, and may even exceed this figure.
high unemployment continues to be a major cause of concern and the
austerity measures as well as the rise in taxation implemented in
several advanced economies to fight public deficits represent a
clear challenge to many leading outbound markets.
“Although we are witnessing a clear recovery in international
tourism, we must remain cautious,” said UNWTO Secretary-General,
Taleb Rifai. “In many advanced economies, namely in the
USA and in some major European markets, economic recovery has
still to consolidate. To this we must add the recent introduction
and increase in taxation, most specifically those which directly
impact the tourism sector, such as air transport taxes. While we
fully understand the need to balance public accounts, one-sided
decisions on taxation risk adversely impacting a sector with a
proven track record for job creation and economic growth, as one
of the major generators of exports earnings and income sources for
developing countries, which are crucial to a stable economic
Regional and Domestic Tourism
Key to Growth
A large majority of international travel takes
place within the traveller’s own region, with around four out of
five arrivals worldwide originating from the same region. The
remarkable rebound of Asia is to a large extent a reflection of
the strength of the regional outbound markets. Domestic tourism is
of equal importance. Worldwide the number of domestic arrivals is
estimated to exceed some four times the number of international
“With consumers tending to travel closer to home
in times of downturns, domestic tourism has been experiencing
significant growth,” said UNWTO Executive Director, Márcio Favilla. “Coupled with
regional tourism, domestic tourism can thus serve as an important
driver of development and growth, in particular during times of
economic uncertainty. China is an excellent example of how to
foster domestic tourism.”
Many countries promote
actively to tap into these markets with festivals, events and
special years, such as the Visit Japan Year 2010 and the Nepal
Tourism Year 2011. In terms of large events, prime examples
include the FIFA World Cup in South Africa last June and the
Shanghai 2010 Expo, being held from May to October, and strongly
boosting both domestic and inbound tourism. At the beginning of
September, four months after opening, almost 50 million visitors
have been counted, and close to half a million visitors are
recorded each day.
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