Exports generated by international tourism reached a whopping USD 1.7 trillion in 2018, 4% increase in real terms over the previous year, a new report from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed.
For the seventh year in a row, tourism exports grew faster than merchandise exports (+3%), reflecting solid demand for international travel in a generally robust economic environment.
Strong growth in outbound travel from many source markets around the world fuelled revenues from international tourism to reach a total USD 1.7 trillion. This accounts for 29% of global service exports and 7% of overall exports of goods and services.
These figures consolidate international tourism among the top five economic sectors in the world, behind chemical manufacturing and the fuel industry but ahead of the food and automotive industries.
“Both emerging and advanced economies around the world are benefiting from rising tourism income.”
Total exports from international tourism include USD 1,448 billion in international tourism receipts (visitor spending in destinations) and USD 256 billion in international passenger transport services.
By regions, Asia and the Pacific led the way with 7% growth in international tourism receipts, followed by Europe with a 5% increase. The Middle East saw 3% growth, while Africa (+1%) and the Americas (0%) recorded more modest results. Central and Eastern Europe and North-East Asia (both +9%) were the subregions with the strongest growth.
“Rather than growing in volume, we need to grow in value. We are pleased to see that both emerging and advanced economies around the world are benefiting from rising tourism income,” Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary-general, said.
“Revenues from international tourism translate into jobs, entrepreneurship and a better situation for people and local economies while reducing trade deficits in many countries” he added.