In a period of international crisis, it is good to hear that some areas are performing really well, and tourism seems to be one of these areas. International tourism receipts hit a new record in 2012, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer and reached a total of USD 1075 billion (euro 837 billion) worldwide. That is up 4% from USD 1042 billion (euro 749 billion) in the previous year.
“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors” he added.
United States, Spain, France, China and Italy leading, followed by Macau (China), Germany, United Kingdom, Hong Kong (China) and Australia were the top ten destinations from the receipts point of view. This top is virtually the same as the one in 2011, with minor changes such as Macao switching place with Germany from the 2011 situation and Hong Kong with Australia.
Fuels, chemicals, food, automotive products and international tourism are top five export categories, with international tourism (travel and passenger transport) accounting for 30% of the world’s exports of services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services.
Since I mentioned this report is about positive numbers and good news in time of crisis, it is worth mentioning that the Americas recorded the largest increase in receipts (+7% from 2011). Significant increases were registered also by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+5%) and Europe (2%). Receipts in the Middle East were down in 2012 (-2%), but this decrease wasn’t as dramatic as the one recorded a year before.
It will be really interesting to see the situation for 2013, but we still have some time to wait for that and, in the meanwhile, many places to discover and enjoy.