Asia continues to be a major driving force in the growth of global tourism. In the first eight months of this year the region witnessed arrivals growth 1.5 percentage points above the global average while China and Korea led a boom in international tourism expenditure. Together Asian nations are proving their value as both tourism destinations and source markets.
International tourist arrivals grew by 4.5% in the first eight months of 2011 to a total of 671 million, 29 million more than in the same period of 2010.
In Asia (+6%), destinations in South-East (+12%) and South Asia (+13%) remained the rising stars with double-digit growth rates, while arrivals slowed in North-East Asia – partly due to the decline in Japanese outbound tourism – and in Oceania.
Contrary to the trend in recent years, growth in arrivals during the first eight months of 2011 was higher in advanced economies (+4.9%) than in emerging ones (+4.0%), due largely to the particularly strong results of Europe (+6%), which this year also benefited from the shift of travel away from the Middle East (-9%) and North Africa (-15%).
In terms of source markets, expenditure on travel abroad continued to be very strong from the emerging economies of China (+30%), Russia (+21%), Brazil (+44%) and India (+33%), while South Korea also proved to be particularly strong.
Growth is expected to soften in the remainder of 2011 and international tourist arrivals are projected to end the year at between +4.0% and +4.5%, in line with UNWTO’s forecast at the beginning of the year. For 2012, growth is forecast to be in the range of +3% to +4%, slightly lower than in 2011 but sustaining the positive results of 2010 (+7%) and 2011.
“A stalled economic recovery and increased financial and fiscal challenges have brought growing uncertainty to the tourism market. Nevertheless, the trends of recent months make us confident that though at a slower pace, international tourism will continue to grow in 2012, creating much needed exports and jobs in many economies around the world,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Tifai.