International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies. International tourism generated US $1.4 trillion in 2013 while tourism arrivals at an international level also grew by 5% reaching 1087 million last year. Growth in international tourists last year was equal to growth in income generated by over one billion tourists that traveled the world in 2013, for business, leisure, visiting friends and relatives or other purposes.
Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations: the United States (+11 percent), Macao (China, +10 percent), the United Kingdom (+18 percent), Thailand (+28 percent), Hong Kong (China, +21 percent), Turkey (+13 percent), India (+13 percent), Japan (+23 percent), Greece (+15 percent) and Taiwan (+12 percent), according to UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
The U.S. specifically is on track to exceed the tourism goal of 100 Million Visitors by 2021, as unveiled in the nation’s first-ever National Travel and Tourism Strategy (NTTS) by President Obama in May 2012.
Two years later, the United States is on pace to not only meet its goal, but to exceed it, according to the U.S. Travel Association, which last month published an NTTS progress report showing that in the past two years the nation has achieved a 5.5% annual growth rate in international travel and tourism. Given the president’s target, the United States should have added 6.2 million new international visitors in the last two years; instead, it’s added 7.1 million.
Despite a slow but steady economic recovery, it wasn’t until last year that Americans picked up the pace of their leisure travel, according to a new consumer travel report from PhoCusWright.
It’s “U.S. Consumer Travel Report Sixth Edition” found that consumers have finally moved on from the recession. 65% of consumers took at least one leisure trip in 2013, compared to 63% in 2010, 62% in 2011 and 61% in 2012. In the pre-recession year of 2008, some 70% of consumers took leisure trips.
The two market segments that registered the biggest spikes in travel were families with children under age 18 and travel parties of two adults, couples or otherwise. Family travel grew to 36% last year, up from 31% in 2012, while travel by two adults rose from 53% to 57% last year, according to the same report.
In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrivals grew by 6% led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7% a year between 2000 and 2012) according to the UNWTO.
Considering the most important markets for Europe, the European Travel Commission’s ETC latest report ‘European Tourism Portfolio Analysis’, reports 5.4% growth in foreign visitor arrivals to Europe in 2013, a positive result on top of 4 years of sustained growth.
Traditional European markets remain the key source of international travel, but some emerging markets have recently become important as well.
As to the growth forecast for the next 3 years, Europe is expected to reach a 3.8% annual growth in foreign visitor arrivals.
The UK, Germany & USA are expected to retain lead positions, accounting for a total of 27% of European travel demand. Russia is forecast to make the 3rd largest contribution to total growth in the next 3 years, while China is less likely to emerge as a big player as an origin market for Europe.