Global tourism arrivals rise 5%

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Chinese tourists are driving global growth (photo by Hung Chung Chih)
Chinese tourists are driving global growth (photo by Hung Chung Chih)

International cross-border tourism arrivals increased 5% in the first nine months of the year.

According to the latest data from the UNWTO, 845 million international trips were taking in the January-September 2013 period – an estimated 41m more than in the same period of 2012.

“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the strong results in many European destinations, where the tourism sector is, undoubtedly, one of the engines of the economic recovery.”

The growth in 2013 is being driven by Europe and Asia Pacific, both of which saw a 6% increase in arrivals. And within the Asia Pacific region, Southeast Asia (+12%) saw the largest gains. Africa (+5%), North America (+4%) and Central America (+3%) also saw steady growth, while the Middle East edged up just 0.3%.

And the global growth is being driven by emerging markets, notably China and Russia. China, which last year became the biggest outbound tourism market in terms of visitor expenditure, spent 22% more on international travel in the first nine months of 2013. Russian outbound spending jumped 29%, while another BRIC economy, Brazil, increased 15%.

Mature markets like the US (+2%), UK (+2%) and France (+2%) grew moderately, while Germany reported zero growth and Japan and Australia saw declines in expenditure.

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