Global tourism “set to grow 2-4%”

International tourism is expected to see positive growth next year between 2-4% with the BRIC economies leading the way, UNWTO and consultancy IPK International has said.

The growing middle classes in Brazil, Russia, India and China will continue to drive the increase next year with arrivals to see a rise of 3-4% this year. Speaking at the World Travel Monitor Forum in Italy, Michel Julian from the UNWTO said this year’s increase was “quite remarkable” given the economic challenges.

Around 170 million more trips are expected to be taken this year compared to 2011 totalling 6.8 billion (up 2.5% year-on-year). Globally the USA is the biggest destination for tourism with 56 million visits, followed by Spain with 51m and Germany with 48m. According to IPK, people are more relaxed about crises but the European debt crisis and rises in costs will impact the industry.

The statistics came as global airline traffic for September continued to see lower growth than previous months according to IATA data. Demand was up 4.1% compared to September 2011 against 5.3% growth in August. European carriers saw the second highest load factors at 83.9% with traffic up 5.4% against 3.5% capacity increase.

“A ‘two-speed’ recovery is emerging into a ‘multi-speed’ reality. Carriers in China, Latin America and the Middle East are growing strongly. Europe’s airlines are experiencing profitless growth in a strategy to manage high fixed costs and taxes,” said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of IATA on the results. “In Africa the challenge is to turn growth opportunities into profits. But for North American airlines the focus is on tightly managing capacity in order to optimise profits in a slow to no-growth environment.” 

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