The growth of tourism- by Leonard Khoo Wei Quan

The growth of tourism

In 2010, 940 million people were recorded as arriving in a country from abroad because of tourism. This is worth $919 billion dollars, making tourism one of the world’s largest industries. (Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO))

A graph to show growth in tourism

Growth in tourism measured by international arrivals

Tourism is also one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. In 2010, the Middle East and Asia had the greatest growth of tourists. Europe still has the greatest number of tourists – nearly 500 million in 2010.

International Tourist Arrivals (in millions)

1990 1995 2000 2005 2008 2009 2010
Europe 261.5 304.1 385.6 439.4 485.2 461.5 476.6
Asia and the pacific 55.8 82.0 110.1 153.6 184.1 180.9 203.8
Americas 92.8 109.0 128.2 133.3 147.8 140.6 149.8
Africa 14.8 18.9 26.5 35.4 44.4 46.0 49.5
Middle east 9.6 13.7 24.1 36.3 55.2 52.9 60.3

Tourism market growth in 2010 (compared to 2009)

% change
Europe 3.3%
Asia and the pacific 12.7%
Americas 6.4%
Africa 7.3%
Middle east 14.1%

The tourism industry therefore is very important to economic growth as well as the environment.

Tourism can help a country’s economy and infrastructure. For example it provides jobs. Some countries such as the Caribbean have tourism as their main source of income.

Reasons behind the trend in tourism

There are many factors that help explain the growth in tourism:

  • More affluence – since 1950 people have become more wealthy. There is more disposable income. People also now have paid time off work for holidays.
  • Greater awareness – through advertising or television programmes people are more aware of how and where they can spend their free time.
  • More car ownership – more families own a car. This gives greater freedom to choose when and where to spend time.
  • Improvements in technology – travelling today is much quicker. Motorways and aircraft have helped reduce the time it takes to get to different countries. Travelling by air has become more accessible as you can book on line and choose more budget options.
  • More leisure time – people have paid holidays from work (on average three weeks per year are paid). Also people who are retired remain active for longer. There is also a trend to take more than one holiday in a year.
  • More choice – in the past seaside holidays and package holidays were the most popular. The industry is seeing more people look at ecotourism and more unusual holiday destinations.
Sunbathers on the beach in Nice, southern FranceSunbathers on the beach in Nice, southern France

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