International Tourist Arrivals up 7% in the First Half of 2010: Asia
The first six months of 2010 saw international tourist arrivals grow
by 7% according to the August Interim Update of the UNWTO World Tourism
Barometer. This result confirms the recovery trend beginning in the last
quarter of 2009 and is expected to continue in the second half of the year
at a somewhat more moderate rate. The Interim Update was officially presented
at the 4th UNWTO/PATA Forum on Tourism Trends and Outlook (2-4 September,
Guilin, China) to tourism stakeholders from the public and private sector,
as well as academia.
Asia and the Middle East lead growth
International tourist arrivals are estimated to have grown by 7% in
the first half of 2010. While growth was modest in April as a consequence
of the closure of European airspace following the eruption of a volcano
in Iceland, results were strong in May (+10%) and June (+8%). Data available
for July indicates that growth is set to continue at a steady rate.
Growth was positive in all world regions, led by a robust performance
of emerging economies expanding at 8% compared to 6% in advanced economies.
Asia and the Pacific (+14%) and the Middle East (+20%), where results were
already positive in the second half of 2009, continue to lead growth in
the first half of 2010 with the majority of destinations in both regions
posting double digit growth rates.
Asia in particular is experiencing a very dynamic rebound, with strong
results from Sri Lanka (+49%), Japan (+36%), Vietnam (+35%), Myanmar (+35%),
Hong Kong (China) (+23%), Macao (China) (+23%), Singapore (+23%), Fiji
(+22%) and the Maldives (+21%). Thailand (+14%) posted encouraging results
in spite of the political unrest early this year. As in previous occasions,
such as the Asian financial and economic crisis (1997-1998), the SARS outbreak
(2003), and the tsunami (2004), Asia has once again shown a strong capacity
for recovery. International tourism has been a driving force in a region
- currently the second most visited region in the world,- with 181 million
international tourist arrivals (21% of world total) and international tourism
receipts of US$ 204 billion (24% of world total) in 2009.
In the Americas (+7%), Central and South America show steady growth,
as does North America. Growth has been slower in the Caribbean but results
are still markedly improved as compared to 2008 and 2009. Europe (+2%)
shows the slowest recovery but results from recent months are slightly
more positive. Although recovery has not yet returned to Northern Europe,
both Western and Southern Mediterranean Europe show reasonable growth.
Africa (+7%), the only region to grow in 2009, maintained this momentum
during the first half of 2010.
International tourism receipts are expected to lag somewhat behind arrivals
in many destinations. Following major shocks, volume (arrivals) tends to
recover faster than income (receipts) as travellers travel closer to home,
for shorter periods of time and seek value for money, while on the supply
side increased competition has been driving prices down. This was also
the case following the Asian economic and financial crisis and after the
2001 September 11 terrorist attacks.
UNWTO forecasts continued growth but risks remain
Overall, international tourist arrivals totalled 421 million during
the first six months of 2010, up 7% on 2009, but still 2% below that of
the record year of 2008 (428 million arrivals in the same period). These
results follow one of the toughest years for the tourism sector with international
tourist arrivals declining by 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million and international
tourism receipts reaching US$ 852 billion (€611 billion), a decrease
in real terms of 5.7%. The return of growth must be thus viewed with caution
given that it compares with a very weak period of 2009.
Nevertheless, many destinations are setting new records, leaving behind
the losses of 2009 and exceeding the 2008 levels. Compared to the first
half of 2008, six sub-regions show growth: Sub-Saharan Africa (+16%), North
Africa (+12%), North-East Asia (+7%), South Asia (+7%), South-East Asia
(+5%) and South America (+4%). For 2010, UNWTO maintains its initial forecast
of international tourist arrivals growing by 3% to 4%. Current growth rates,
coupled with an improving global economic environment suggest that end-year
results are likely to be closer to 4%, and may even exceed this figure.
However, high unemployment continues to be a major cause of concern
and the austerity measures as well as the rise in taxation implemented
in several advanced economies to fight public deficits represent a clear
challenge to many leading outbound markets.
“Although we are witnessing a clear recovery in international tourism,
we must remain cautious,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai in
Madrid. “In many advanced economies, namely in the USA and in some major
European markets, economic recovery has still to consolidate. To this we
must add the recent introduction and increase in taxation, most specifically
those which directly impact the tourism sector, such as air transport taxes.
While we fully understand the need to balance public accounts, one-sided
decisions on taxation risk adversely impacting a sector with a proven track
record for job creation and economic growth, as one of the major generators
of exports earnings and income sources for developing countries, which
are crucial to a stable economic recovery.”
Regional and domestic tourism key to growth
The August Interim Update was presented at the 4th UNWTO/PATA Forum
on Tourism Trends and Outlook (Guilin, China), held under the theme Domestic
and Regional Tourism: Issues, Opportunities and Prospects.
A large majority of international travel takes place within the traveller’s
own region, with around four out of five arrivals worldwide originating
from the same region. The remarkable rebound of Asia is to a large extent
a reflection of the strength of the regional outbound markets. Domestic
tourism is of equal importance. Worldwide the number of domestic arrivals
is estimated to exceed some four times the number of international arrivals.
“With consumers tending to travel closer to home in times of downturns,
domestic tourism has been experiencing significant growth,” said UNWTO
Executive Director, Márcio Favilla, presenting the Update at the
Forum in Guilin, China. “Coupled with regional tourism, domestic tourism
can thus serve as an important driver of development and growth, in particular
during times of economic uncertainty. China is an excellent example of
how to foster domestic tourism,” he added.
Many countries promote actively to tap into these markets with festivals,
events and special years, such as the Visit Japan Year 2010 and the Nepal
Tourism Year 2011. In terms of large events, prime examples include the
FIFA World Cup in South Africa last June and the Shanghai 2010 Expo, being
held from May to October, and strongly boosting both domestic and inbound
tourism. At the beginning of September, four months after opening, almost
50 million visitors have been counted, and close to half a million visitors
are recorded each day.
Note: The Interim Updates of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer are published
between the three yearly full issues (January, June and October) as part
of UNWTO’s activity to support its members in the face of the economic
crisis through closer market monitoring. A comprehensive analysis of international
tourism trends will be included in the next full version of the UNWTO World
Tourism Barometer scheduled for the end of October.
UNWTO Tourism Highlights presents a snapshot of key figures and trends
for international tourism in 2009, including the ranking of tourism destinations.
This overview is now available for free download at www.UNWTO.org/facts
and is released on the occasion of World Tourism Day, held annually on
27 September. In 2010, the 31st World Tourism Day will be celebrated under
the theme Tourism and Biodiversity in Guangdong Province, China (see www.UNWTO.org/worldtourismday).
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Capitán Haya, 42
Madrid, 28020 Spain
Phone: +34 91 571 07 57