The rising wave of travellers
From the Old Continent to Africa, tourism represents a development engine
Between the Seventies and Eighties, when the new epoch of mass trans-continental tourism began, India started recording staggering numbers: if in the Sixties roughly 200 thousand tourists had visited the Old Continent, in 1986 the same estimate had increased five-fold, indicating the presence of over one million tourists. Since then, the tourism sector has grown exponentially. The number of tourists reaching India every year further augmented to three and a half million in 2004 and to five in 2007. In 2016 nine million people crossed the Indian frontier and in 2017 the ten million threshold was reached. These numbers might not appear staggering comparatively to the size of the country and the number of its inhabitants (over one billion and three hundred thousand). Yet they are the incredible result of a global trend coupled with targeted reforms, carried out by Indian authorities in the 1990s, and advertising campaigns, from Shining India to Incredible India.
India is not the only country at the forefront of the tourism sector, one of the largest contributor to the world’s GDP and one of the sectors less impacted by the financial recession which has troubled international markets over the last few years. However, in India every estimate appears staggering: in 2016 alone, the tourist industry moved 210 billion dollars, roughly 9.6% of the GDP, fostering 40 million employment opportunities, 10% of which considerable as stable jobs. Sectoral growth is estimated at 6.8% yearly. A small revolution. Yet a very popular one.
The last UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that International tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017, reaching a total of 1,322 million, the highest result in seven years. This global momentum is expected to continue in 2018, albeit at a minimally reduced rate of 4% - 5%. Forecasts expect Europe and the Americas to grow by 3.5% - 4.5%, Asia and the Pacific by 5% - 6%, Africa by 5% - 7% and the Middle East by 4% - 6%. “Results were partly shaped by the global economic upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging source markets – explains UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili-, particularly a rebound in tourism spending from Brazil and the Russian Federation after a few years of declines. International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development. As the third export sector in the world, tourism is essential for job creation and the prosperity of communities around the world”.
Europe continues to be the most visited continent: international tourist arrivals reached 671 million in 2017, registering a staggering 8% increase compared with 2016. Such result was driven by the extraordinary numbers registered in Mediterranean Europe (+13%) coupled with the robust growth recorded in Western Europe (+7%), Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%). The Asia and the Pacific Region follows closely, with a recorded 324 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 (+6%). Arrivals in South Asia and South-East Asia grew respectively of 10% and 8%. Oceania registered a 7% increased and North-East Asia a 3% increase.
The Americas registered 207 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 (+3%). South America (+7%) led the growth, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). In North America (+2%), solid results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, historically the region’s most aspired destination.
Even the African continent registered significant growth, reaching record 62 million international tourist arrivals. North Africa recorded a strong recovery, plus 13%, while in Sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by 5%. The Middle East registered a 5 percentage-points increase, with 58 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 alone. Overall, sustained growth spans across specific destinations while sign of strong recovery characterise others.
For further information read the news about the 18th edition of the Europ Assistance – Ipsos Holiday Barometer.
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