International tourism


International tourism refers to tourism that crosses national borders. Globalisation has made tourism a popular global leisure activity. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".[1] The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 500,000 people are in flight at any one time.[2]

Modern aviation has made it possible to travel long distances quickly.
International tourism over time

In 2010, international tourism reached US$919B, growing 6.5% over 2009, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 4.7%.[3] In 2010, there were over 940 million international tourist arrivals worldwide.[4] By 2016 that number had risen to 1,235 million, producing 1,220 billion USD in destination spending.[5] The COVID-19 crisis had significant negative effects on international tourism significantly slowing the overall increasing trend.

International tourism has significant impacts on the environment, exacerbated in part by the problems created by air travel but also by other issues, including wealthy tourists bringing lifestyles that stress local infrastructure, water and trash systems among others.

History


As a result of the late-2000s recession, international travel demand suffered a strong slowdown from the second half of 2008 through the end of 2009.[6] This negative trend intensified during 2009, exacerbated in some countries due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in a worldwide decline of 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million international tourists arrivals, and a 5.7% decline in international tourism receipts.[7]

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travelers. The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread.[8] The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated that global international tourist arrivals might decrease by 58% to 78% in 2020, leading to a potential loss of US$0.9–1.2 trillion in international tourism receipts.[9]

In many of the world's cities, planned travel went down by 80–90%.[10] Conflicting and unilateral travel restrictions occurred regionally[11][12] and many tourist attractions around the world, such as museums, amusement parks, and sports venues closed. UNWTO reported a 65% drop in international tourist arrivals in the first six months of 2020.[13] Air passenger travel showed a similar decline.[14] The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a report in June 2021 stating that the global economy could lose over US$4 trillion as a result of the pandemic.[15]

Rankings


Total volume of cross-border tourist travel

International tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion in 2012, up from over 996 million in 2011, and 952 million in 2010.[16] In 2011 and 2012, international travel demand continued to recover from the losses resulting from the late-2000s recession, where tourism suffered a strong slowdown from the second half of 2008 through the end of 2009. After a 5% increase in the first half of 2008, growth in international tourist arrivals moved into negative territory in the second half of 2008, and ended up only 2% for the year, compared to a 7% increase in 2007.[17] The negative trend intensified during 2009, exacerbated in some countries due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in a worldwide decline of 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million international tourists arrivals, and a 5.7% decline in international tourism receipts.[18]

World's top tourism destinations

In 2019 there were 1.460 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide, with a growth of 3.7% as compared to 2018.[19] The World Tourism Organization reports the following ten destinations as the most visited in terms of the number of international travelers in 2019.

Rank Destination International
tourist
arrivals
(2019)[19]
International
tourist
arrivals
(2018)[19]
Change
(2018 to
2019)
(%)
Change
(2017 to
2018)
(%)
1 France89 million[lower-roman 1]89.4 million N/A 2.9
2 Spain83.5 million82.8 million 0.8 1.1
3 United States79.3 million79.7 million 0.6 3.3
4 China65.7 million62.9 million 4.5 3.6
5 Italy64.5 million61.6 million 4.8 5.7
6 Turkey51.2 million45.8 million 11.9 21.7
7 Mexico45.0 million41.3 million 9.0 5.1
8 Thailand39.8 million38.2 million 4.3 7.3
9 Germany39.6 million38.9 million 1.8 3.8
10 United Kingdom39.4 million38.7 million 1.9 2.2
Notes
  1. Data for France corresponds to 2018, figure 2019 is not available yet

International tourism receipts

The World Tourism Organization reports that international tourism receipts were US$1.7 trillion in 2018, an increase in real terms of 4% over 2017.[20] The top ten tourism earners in 2018 were:

Rank Country/Area International

tourism receipts (2018)[20]

1  United States $214.00 billion
2  Spain $74.00 billion
3  France $67.00 billion
4  Thailand $63.00 billion
5  United Kingdom $52.00 billion
6  Italy $49.00 billion
7  Egypt $45.00 billion
8  Germany $43.00 billion
9  Japan $41.00 billion
10  China $40.00 billion

International tourism expenditure

The World Tourism Organization reports the following countries as the ten biggest spenders on international tourism for the year 2018.[20]

Rank Country International

tourism expenditure (2018)[20]

1  China $277 billion
2  United States $144 billion
3  Germany $94 billion
4  United Kingdom $76 billion
5  France $48 billion
6  Australia $37 billion
7  Russia $35 billion
8  Canada $33 billion
9  South Korea $32 billion
10  Italy $30 billion

Euromonitor International Top City Destinations Ranking

Euromonitor International rated these the world's most visited cities by international tourists in 2017:[21]

Rank City Country International

tourist arrivals[22]

1 Hong Kong  China 27.88 million
2 Bangkok  Thailand 22.45 million
3 London  United Kingdom 19.82 million
4 Singapore  Singapore 17.61 million
5 Cairo  Egypt 17.33 million
6 Paris  France 15.83 million
7 Dubai  United Arab Emirates 15.79 million
8 New York City  United States 13.10 million
9 Macau  Macau 12.84 million
10 Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia 12.47 million

World Travel and Tourism Council

Countries showing strong international travel and tourism growth between 2010 and 2016[23]
Rank Country Percentage
1 Myanmar 73.5%
2 Sudan 49.8%
3 Azerbaijan 36.4%
4 Qatar 34.1%
5 São Tomé and Príncipe 30.1%
6 Sri Lanka 26.4%
7 Cameroon 25.5%
8 Georgia 22.7%
9 Iceland 20.0%
10 Kyrgyzstan 19.5%
Countries that performed best in fastest growing tourism and travel industry in 2016[24]
Rank Country Percentage
1 Azerbaijan 46.1%
2 Mongolia 24.4%
3 Iceland 20.1%
4 Cyprus 15.4%
5 Kazakhstan 15.2%
6 Moldova 14.2%
7 Costa Rica 12.1%
8 Georgia 11.2%
9 Sri Lanka 10.7%
10 Thailand 10.7%

References


  1. "UNWTO technical manual: Collection of Tourism Expenditure Statistics" (PDF). World Tourism Organization. 1995. p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  2. Swine flu prompts EU warning on travel to US. The Guardian. 28 April 2009.
  3. "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer June 2009" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. World Tourism Organization. 7 (2). June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  4. "2011 Highlights" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Highlights. UNWTO. June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 January 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  5. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (2017-07-01). UNWTO Tourism Highlights: 2017 Edition. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). doi:10.18111/9789284419029. ISBN 978-92-844-1902-9.
  6. "International tourism challenged by deteriorating global economy" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. World Tourism Organization. 7 (1). January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  7. "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer Interim Update" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. World Tourism Organization. August 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-17. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  8. "BBC Business News". BBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  9. "International Tourist Numbers Could Fall 60–80% in 2020". unwto.org. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  10. Team, The Visual and Data Journalism (28 March 2020). "Coronavirus: A visual guide to the pandemic". BBC News. Archived from the original on 27 March 2020.
  11. "EU's Politics-Oriented Approach To Border Reopening Is Risking Recovery". Schengen Visa Info. 13 July 2020. Archived from the original on 13 July 2020.
  12. "Airlines and Airports Warn European PMs on Inconsistent Approach to Travel Restrictions". Schengen Visa Info. 4 August 2020. Archived from the original on 16 August 2020.
  13. "International Tourist Numbers Down 65% in First Half of 2020". unwto.org. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  14. "Airlines may need to retool routes with decline in business travel". Marketplace. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  15. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (June 30, 2021). "COVID-19 and Tourism: An Update" (PDF). Retrieved June 30, 2021.
  16. "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. 11 (1). January 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  17. "International tourism challenged by deteriorating global economy" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. 7 (1). January 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  18. "UNWTO World Tourism Barometer Interim Update" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. August 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  19. "International Tourism Highlights, 2020 Edition". World Tourism Organization. Retrieved 2021-01-27.
  20. International Tourism Highlights. UNWTO. 2020. doi:10.18111/9789284421152. ISBN 9789284421152.
  21. "World's most visited cities". CNN. 3 December 2018.
  22. "Top 100 City Destinations Ranking". Euromonitor International. 27 December 2018.
  23. "Countries Showing Strong International Travel and Tourism Growth" (PDF).
  24. "Which Countries Performed Best In 2016?" (PDF). p. 7.