Travel & Tourism Market: Top Visited Countries and Their Contribution to GDP14 Feb 2018 • by Natalie Aster
LONDON – Nowadays, the travel and tourism industry is amid the world’s strongest industries with a colossal contribution to the world economy. Annually, the number of international tourist arrivals increases at a steady pace. It was around 1.24 billion in 2016, and in 2017 witnessed a 7% YoY uptake and crossed the 1.32 billion mark. In the upcoming years, international tourist arrivals will go up at a rate of 4-5% and cross over 1.8 billion till 2030.
Leading regions basing on international tourist arrivals
Globally, the leading position basing on international tourist arrivals belongs to Europe: the region commands over half of the world’s total number. Last year, the inflow of international tourists in the European region registered a 7% YoY increase and reached 671 million.
During the recent past, the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism market has witnessed robust uptake and taken the second place worldwide in terms of international tourist arrivals. As of 2017, Asia-Pacific welcomed 324 million international tourists, recording a 6% YoY uptake. Steadily strengthening economy, rising disposable income, and ongoing infrastructure developments (especially in such countries as India, Singapore, Japan, and China) are amidst the major factors encouraging swift uptake of the travel and tourism market in Asia-Pacific.
In North America, the inflow of international tourists exhibited 2% YoY growth in 2017 and exceeded 133 million.
The Middle East region recorded the inflow of 58 million international tourists in 2017 – a 5% YoY gain.
International tourist arrivals by regions during 2012-2017 (in million)
The travel and tourism industry has exhibited an impressive growth in value terms over the recent years. In the year 2016, the travel and tourism industry generated about USD 7.6 trillion. By 2025, the revenues are poised to exceed USD 11.38 trillion, demonstrating growth at a CAGR of almost 4%.
Key factors influencing global travel & tourism market dynamics
- escalating per capita income in most of emerging countries;
- favourable initiatives adopted by government bodies and nongovernmental organizations;
- vanishing of travel barriers;
- decreasing costs;
- growing disposable incomes;
- changes in attitudes towards traveling;
- rising investments in infrastructure development;
- and many more.
- underperformance of the global economy;
- inflationary and deflationary burdens;
- political unrest in some countries;
- risks associated with safety and security;
- unpredictable and heavy weather conditions;
- natural calamities;
- terrorist threats;
- outbreaks of some fatal diseases (e.g. Swine Flu, Ebola);
Globally, the travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to the economy was estimated at around USD 7.61 trillion in 2016; whilst, the direct economic impact of this industry stood at about USD 2.3 trillion.
Total and direct contribution of travel & tourism industry to global economy 2006 - 2016 (in trillion USD)
Top 5 Visited Countries
As one of the global largest and strongest economic sectors, the travel and tourism industry creates new jobs, fuels exports, and boosts prosperity worldwide.
In 2017, the world’s travel & tourism market demonstrated sustained uptake across numerous destinations and also registered stable recovery in countries that witnessed declines during the previous years. The present strong performance of the travel and tourism market will likely continue gaining momentum during 2018 and further. In 2018, the volume of international tourist arrivals all over the world is forecast to pick up by around 4-5%.
During the past several years top five most visited countries across the globe remain unchanged: France, the USA, Spain, China, and Italy.
France welcomed around 82.6 international tourists in 2016. The country maintains the leading position due to its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking history and well-known tourist destinations like the Louvre, Disneyland, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower, to name a few.
The travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP of France was estimated at EUR 198.3 billion in 2016; whilst in 2017 reached EUR 201.9 billion. By 2027, the figure is anticipated to amount to EUR 240.5 billion.
Total contribution of travel & tourism industry to GDP in France during 2012-2017 (in billion EUR)
Robust growth in France’s travel and tourism market is considerably encouraged by favourable initiatives adopted in the country to capture tourists’ attention (for example, easing visa policies), the cheaper Euro, improved security after a range of terrorist attacks since 2015, amidst others. Moreover, during Euro 2016 France registered an increased inflow of football fans, that also boosted the national travel and tourism market growth.
2. The USA
The USA ranked 2nd basing on the volume of international tourist arrivals in the year 2016, the country received 75.6 million visitors.
The travel and tourism industry presents a significant source of employment in the USA, directly providing about 5.5 million jobs every year.
As of the year 2016, the travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP in the USA was around USD 1.51 trillion; in 2017, it reached USD 1.58 trillion. Furthermore, the figure is projected to come up to USD 2.63 trillion by 2027.
Total contribution of travel & tourism industry to GDP in the USA during 2012-2017 (in trillion USD)
The Spanish travel and tourism market managed to remain stable despite escalated concerns associated with terrorist attacks in the European and Mediterranean regions. As of 2016, Spain welcomed 75.6 million international tourists.
The travel and tourism industry represents the 3rd major contributor to the Spanish economy. As of 2016, this industry created nearly 2.65 million jobs in the country.
In Spain, the travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP was evaluated at EUR 158.9 billion in 2016, and EUR 164.9 billion in 2017. By 2027, it is projected to surge to EUR 196.5 billion.
Total contribution of travel & tourism industry to GDP in Spain during 2012-2017 (in billion EUR)
In 2016, 59.3 million international tourists came to China.
The total revenues generated by China’s travel and tourism industry enjoyed a 15.2% uptake in 2016 and reached CNY 3.94 trillion. The same year, this industry created 22.5 million jobs in the country and contributed directly appr. 2.1% to GDP (whilst the total contribution was 9%).
As for the direct contribution of the travel and tourism industry to China’s GDP, it exceeded CNY 1.82 trillion in 2016; by 2027, it is anticipated to cross CNY 4 trillion (7.5% of country’s GDP).
Contribution of travel & tourism industry to GDP in China during 2014-2016 (in %)
Italy attracted 52.4 million international tourists in 2016. The same year, the international tourists’ spending in Italy was evaluated at EUR 37.2 billion, whilst in 2017 exceeded EUR 39.2 billion.
The travel and tourism industry’s total contribution to GDP in Italy reached EUR 186.1 billion in 2016 and climbed to EUR 190.4 billion in 2017. By 2027, this figure is anticipated to run to EUR 219.9 billion.
Total contribution of travel & tourism industry to GDP in Italy during 2012-2017 (in billion EUR)
During the past several decades, the travel and tourism industry has demonstrated sustained expansion and diversification and has proved to be one of the most influential and rapidly-evolving economic sectors globally. A slew of novel destinations from pole to pole have opened up to, and invested in tourism, thus, transforming it into an essential engine of socio-economic progress.
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