Global travel patterns: an overview

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1 Journal of Travel Medicine, 2017, 1 5 doi: /jtm/tax007 Perspective Perspective Global travel patterns: an overview Dirk Glaesser*, John Kester, Hanna Paulose, Abbas Alizadeh, and Birka Valentin Department of Sustainable Development of Tourism, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Madrid, Spain *To whom correspondence should be addressed. Editorial decision 23 January 2017; Accepted 24 January 2017 Key words: Global tourism, international travel, outbound, inbound Introduction In recent decades, the global tourism market has experienced continual growth and deepening diversification making it one of the world s fastest growing economic sectors. International tourist arrivals have grown steadily from 25 million in 1950 to a total of billion arrivals in This growth is projected to continue and according to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts, international tourist arrivals will increase to 1.8 billion by In addition to this significant market growth, tourism s increasing significance can be seen in a variety of relevant international processes, most prominently in the Rio þ 20 (The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rioþ20), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012, was the third UN conference on sustainable development aimed at reconciling the economic and environmental goals of the global community. Specifically, in this conference, it was recognized that tourism, if well managed, can make a significant contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development.), 2 the SENDAI Framework (The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, 2015, highlighted the need to link approaches in the tourism sector and disaster management.) 3 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, also known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is a set of 17 aspirational Global Goals with 169 targets. Tourism has been recognized in Goals 8, 12 and 14, for its capacity to contribute to achieving the SDGs, namely by fostering economic growth, creating jobs, promoting local culture and accelerating the change to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.) 4 among others underscoring the integral role of tourism in our societies. 1 Latest International Trends in Tourism Tourism encompasses the range of activities that visitors engage in while travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year, for any primary purpose business, leisure or other personal except to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited. 5 Global trends in tourism are expressed in terms of the number of international tourist arrivals in destinations, which quantifies the number of foreign tourists that arrive in a destination and stay for at least one night marked the sixth consecutive year of above-average 1 growth in international tourism since the global economic crisis in The number of international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) in 2015 increased by 4.6% (an additional 52 million international tourists) from the previous year, reaching a total of billion globally. By UNWTO region, the Americas and Asia and thepacificrecordedcloseto6%growthininternationaltourist arrivals in 2015, with Europe experiencing 5% growth. In the same period, tourist arrivals in the Middle East (According to UNWTO classification, members of the Middle East region include Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.) increased by 2% while in Africa they declined by 3%, primarily due to weak tourist arrivals in North Africa. UNWTO expects 2016 to be the seventh consecutive year of above-average growth in the tourism sector. The latest tourism barometer published by UNWTO 7 indicates that international tourist arrivals grew by 4% compared with the previous year between January and September 2016 with destinations around the world receiving 956 million international tourists (overnight visitors) during the same period. The highest increase in international arrivals between January and September 2016 was recorded in Asia and the Pacific region, a 9% increase compared with 2015, with a robust growth in all the Asian sub-regions. UNWTO forecasts expect international tourist arrivals to increase by % by the end of 2016, which is in line with the Organization s long-term projection of 3.8% annual growth for the period VC World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) [2017]. All rights reserved. The World Tourism Organization has granted the Publisher permission for the reproduction of this article. For Permissions, please

2 2 Journal of Travel Medicine, 2017, Vol. 24, No. 4 Figure 2 demonstrates the regional distribution of international tourist arrivals (since 1950 and those projected in the future). Even though Europe traditionally has been the world s most visited region and is expected to maintain this status in the next decades, the data indicate that the fastest future growth will be concentrated in international tourist arrivals to the Asia and the Pacific and Americas regions. Figure 1. International tourist arrivals and receipts over the years. Source: UNWTO (2016a) Inbound Tourism Tourist arrivals can be either international arrivals where tourists travel across international borders, or domestic arrivals where tourists travel within their country. However, to date, availability of reliable data is limited to international arrivals; and hence, this article will focus on international tourist arrivals. As Figure 1 shows, both international tourist arrivals as well as tourism receipts have been on the rise since 1995, except for two major slow-downs in 2003 (primarily due to the SARS epidemic outbreak) and 2009 (due to global financial crisis). 1 The figure also shows the quick recovery of the sector from the 2009 economic recession and its subsequent steady growth in the following years. The tourist arrivals has more than doubled in the last 20 years increasing from 527 million international tourist arrivals in 1995 to billion arrivals in As mentioned above, UNWTO statistics for the January September 2016 period indicates that this trend is likely to continue in Regional Perspective Another market trend, demonstrated by the data in Table 1, is that emerging economies are garnering an ever-greater share of global international tourist arrivals and are currently comparable to that of advanced economies (Advanced economies and emerging economies classifications are based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF); see the World Economic Outlook, October 2015 at data/groups.htm. (20 February 2017, date last accessed)). Table 2 reflects this trend, as it shows a significant change in the composition of tourism destinations receiving the most international tourist arrivals from 1950 to In 1950, 71% of all global tourist arrivals were in the United States, Canada, Italy, France and Switzerland and the top 15 destinations claimed a total 97% of tourist arrivals. In contrast, in 2015 only 54% of tourist arrivals took place in the top 15 destinations. The most recent figures show that emerging economy destinations (e.g. China, Turkey, Mexico, Russian Federation, Thailand and Malaysia) are gaining positions among the top 15 destinations replacing some more advanced economy destinations (e.g. Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark). Travel Motivations In 2015, more than half of international tourist arrivals (53% or 632 million) were motivated by holidays, recreation and leisure-related travel. In the same year, business and professional travel accounted for 14% of all international tourist arrivals, and another 27% travelled for other reasons such as visiting friends and relatives (VFR), religious reasons and health treatments. 6 The purpose of travel for the remaining 6% of arrivals was not specified. According to UNWTO forecasts, trends will remain largely stable into 2030, when it is projected that leisure, recreation and holidays will represent 54%, business and professional travel 15%, and VFR, health, religion and other purposes 31% of all international arrivals. 1 Outbound Tourism 6 In general, the majority of international travel takes place within a traveller s own region, with approximately four out of five arrivals originating in the same region. Source markets for international tourism have traditionally been concentrated largely in the advanced economies (see, for instance, year 1990 in Table 3). However, with an overall increase in disposable income and the resulting expansion of the middle-class worldwide, many emerging economies have shown rapid growth in recent years, especially in tourism markets in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Europe remains the world s largest source region, generating half of the world s international arrivals, followed by Asia and the Pacific (24%), the Americas (17%), the Middle East (3%) and Africa (3%). Yet, while the contribution of Europe towards international arrivals generated has remained relatively steady between 1990 and 2015 (>50%), the contribution of Asia and the Pacific has increased from 13 to 24% in this period. Africa has also seen an increase, albeit small, in the number of outbound tourists over the past two decades. Top Tourism Source Markets 6 When looking in detail at the individual source markets, China, the United States and the United Kingdom led in outbound tourism numbers within their respective regions in 2015, mainly due to their favourable exchange rates and strong economies. China has been dominating global outbound travel for the past decade, especially after achieving double-digit growth in tourism expenditures every year since The total number of outbound travellers from China rose by 11 million from 2014 to reach 128 million in Chinese outbound tourism focuses mainly on regional destinations such as Japan and Thailand but also many Chinese travellers are visiting the United States and Europe.

3 Journal of Travel Medicine, 2017, Vol. 24, No. 4 3 Table 1. International tourist arrivals in advanced and emerging economies International tourist arrivals (million) Market share (%) Change (%) Average a year (%) * 2015* 13/12 14/13 15*/ * World ,134 1, Advanced economies Emerging economies Source: UNWTO (2016a). Table 2. Top tourist destinations by international arrival Rank 1950 Share 1970 Share 1990 Share 2015 Share 1 United States Italy France France 2 Canada Canada United States United States 3 Italy 71% France 43% Spain 39% Spain 28% 4 France Spain Italy China 5 Switzerland United States Austria Italy 6 Ireland Austria Mexico Turkey 7 Austria Germany Germany Germany 8 Spain 17% Switzerland 22% United Kingdom 18% United Kingdom 15% 9 Germany Yugoslavia Canada Mexico 10 United Kingdom United Kingdom China Russian Federation 11 Norway Hungary Greece Thailand 12 Argentina Czechoslovakia Portugal Austria 13 Mexico 9% Belgium 10% Switzerland 9% Hong Kong (China) 11% 14 Netherlands Bulgaria Yugoslav SFR Malaysia 15 Denmark Romania Malaysia Greece Others 3% Others 25% Others 34% Others 46% Total 25 million 166 million 436 million 1186 million Source: Data as collected by UNWTO, August Figure 2. International tourist arrivals by region. Source: UNWTO (2016a)

4 4 Journal of Travel Medicine, 2017, Vol. 24, No. 4 Table 3. International tourist arrivals by region of origin International tourist arrivals (million) Market share (%) Change (%) Average a year (%) * 2015* 14/13 15*/ * World ,042 1,090 1,137 1, From: Europe Asia and the Pacific Americas Middle East Africa Origin not specified Same region Other regions Source: UNWTO (2016a). The number of outbound travellers from the United States, the world s second largest source market, reached 73 million in The United Kingdom (UK), the fourth largest source market, led growth in outbound demand in Europe with the support of a strong British pound against the euro. In comparison to 2014, outbound tourists from the UK were up by 5 million, totalling 64 million in Weaker currencies adversely affected the contribution of other source markets such as Germany and France. Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Canada, Italy and Australia retained their place in the list of top 10 source markets. In addition to the top 10 markets, other source markets which showed double-digit growth in expenditure last year included Spain, Sweden, Taiwan (People s Republic of China), Kuwait, the Philippines, Thailand, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Israel, Egypt and South Africa. Long-Term Trends 1 As previously discussed (see Section 2), forecasts of international tourist arrivals predict an average of 3.3% increase until In absolute numbers, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by almost 43 million a year on average between 2010 and 2030 compared with an increase of 28 million a year during the period from 1995 to At this rate, international tourist arrivals worldwide are expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2020 and 1.8 billion by the year From a regional perspective, Asia and the Pacific is expected to witness the strongest growth in tourist arrivals, where the forecast suggests an increase by 331 million over the period to reach 535 million in 2030 with a growth of 4.9% per year. Tourist arrivals are also expected to double in the Middle East (from 61 million to 149 million) and Africa (from 50 million to 134 million) in the period from 2010 to In contrast, projections suggest that growth in Europe (from 475 million to 744 million) and the Americas (from 150 million to 248 million) will be slower compared with the projections for other regions. Moreover, emerging economy destinations are expected to experience nearly twice as much growth in international tourist arrivals (þ4.4% a year) as advanced economy destinations (þ2.2% a year), exceeding the total number of arrivals in advanced economies before As a result, it is expected that in 2030, 57% of international arrivals will be in emerging economy destinations (versus 30% in 1980) and the remaining 43% in advanced economy destinations (vs 70% in 1980). Outlook The existing data and forecasts suggest a clear increase in the number of travellers in the coming decades as well as significant overall growth in the tourism sector worldwide. While the information presented in this review has focussed on global travel trends and international tourist flows, it is important to note that domestic tourism is also expected to expand continuously, opening up more destinations and source markets in the future. In addition, the data underscore how the rapid expansion of the sector is increasingly being driven by growth of the tourism markets in emerging economies, as well as an increase in the number of first-time travellers. These factors have largely been enabled by a combination of reduced barriers to tourism and significant increases in disposable income. The outlook for the sector poses opportunities while raising distinct challenges, in particular regarding sustainability, and highlights the need for proper planning and management in tourism. These trends provide valuable insight that should be taken into account when developing strategies and actions to address travel-related health issues such as accidents, food safety and diseases, and to ensure that tourism growth is inclusive, sustainable and resilient for both the host communities and the travellers. Conflict of interest: None declared. References 1. World Tourism Organization. Tourism Towards 2030/Global Overview. Madrid; United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 66/288: The future we want. New York; United Nations. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction New York; 2015.

5 Journal of Travel Medicine, 2017, Vol. 24, No United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 70/1:Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York; United Nations. International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics New York; World Tourism Organization. UNWTO Tourism Highlights. Madrid; 2016a. 7. World Tourism Organization. UNWTO World Tourism Barometer and Statistical Annex. Madrid; 2016b.

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