The global travel and tourism industry was worth US$1.5 trillion in 2014, according to new figures released by the UNWTO.
International tourism receipts reached a record US$1.25 trillion last year, up 3.7% compared to 2013. And an additional US$221bn was generated from the international passenger transport industry, boosting the total value of the industry to US$1.5trn.
The growth in revenue coincided with a 4.4% rise in international tourist arrivals in 2014, to a record 1.14bn.
“International tourism is an increasingly significant component of international trade as seen in export earnings from international tourism and passenger transport,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
“In a scenario with decreasing commodity prices, spending on international tourism grew significantly in 2014, proving the sector’s capacity to stimulate economic growth, boost exports and create jobs”, he added.
International tourism, including passenger transport, now represents 6% of total global goods and service exports, making it the world’s fourth largest industry after fuels, chemicals and food. But the UNWTO noted that it is the top industry in many developing countries.
Europe, which accounts for 41% of global international tourism receipts, saw its tourism earnings rise US$17bn to US$509bn, while Asia Pacific (30% share) increased US$16bn to US$377bn. In the Americas (22%), receipts increased by US$10bn to a total of US$274bn, while earnings in the Middle East (4%) rose US$4bn to US$49bn. Africa (3%) saw its tourism revenues increase by US$1bn to US$36bn.
China cemented its position as the world’s top outbound tourism spender in 2014, rising 28% to a total of US$165bn. The world’s second largest spender, the US, posted a 7% increase. But Russia, the world’s fifth largest market, saw a 6% decline in 2014. Germany and the UK were third and fourth.
The US (US$177bn) and Spain (US$65bn) retained first and second positions in terms of tourism earnings last year, while China climbed into third place following a 10% increase to US$57bn. France and Macau completed the top five.