Global tourism ready for strong 2013

Europe remains the most visited region in the world

Tourism growth is expected to continue in 2013 at between 3% and 4% – about the same as the 4% growth in international tourist arrivals seen in 2012, which reached 1.035 billion. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, emerging economies (+4.1%) regained the lead over advanced economies (+3.6%), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results.
Last year saw an additional 39 million international tourists, passing the 1 billion mark for the first time in history. Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter. By region, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was the best performer, while by sub-region South-East Asia, North Africa (both +9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%) topped the ranking.
International tourist arrivals in Europe, the most visited region in the world, were up by 3% in 2012, which the UNWTO describes as “a very positive result in view of the economic situation”, and following a strong 2011 (+6%). Total arrivals reached 535 million, 17 million more than in 2011.
Although the highest growth rates in expenditure abroad among the ten top markets came from emerging economies – China (+42%) and Russia (+31%) – important traditional source markets, showed particularly good results. In Europe, and despite economic pressures, expenditure on international tourism by Germany held well at +3%, while the UK (+5%) returned to growth after two flat years. But France (-7%) and Italy (-2%) registered declines in travel expenditure.
Smaller markets with significant growth were Venezuela (+31%), Poland (+19%), Philippines (+17%), Malaysia (+15%), Saudi Arabia (+14%), Belgium (+13%), Norway and Argentina (both +12%), Switzerland and Indonesia (both +10%).
[photo courtesy Orient Express]