Highly interesting figures have been produced on the strong performance of world tourism in the early part of 2008 from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) despite the overall international economic slowdown. http://www.unwto.org/media/news/en/press_det.php?id=2532&idioma=E
These figures are rooted in the well established trend that as personal incomes rise leisure services, of which tourism is a major part, are one of the few sectors of expenditure on which customers spend not only more in absolute terms but an increasing proportion of their income - clothing, health and education are others (although in many countries the latter two are in large part provided by the state).
Promotion of tourism, and suitable physical infrastructure for tourism, therefore has to be an increasing part of county and city economic programmes. However promotion of many tourism in a number of countries remains amateurish -an exception among emerging economies is India's 'Incredible India' campaign which is of extremely high quality. China in contrast continues to drastically underperform in professionalism of tourism promotion and this has doubtless contributed to lower than anticipated visitor numbers to Beijing for the Olympic Games.
World tourism rose by around 5 per cent in the first four months of 2008 compared to the same period in the previous year - one per cent above the long term trend. This was despite the pressures to slowdown in the world economy as a whole. According to UNWTO:
'All sub-regions posted positive results in the first months of the year. Growth was fastest in the Middle East, North-East and South Asia, and Central and South America. North-America is on track for a clearly positive year thanks to the strong inbound travel to the USA, while arrivals to the Caribbean started to rebound well on last year’s stagnant results. Growth was more modest in Europe, with best performances coming from Southern and Mediterranean destinations.A variety of destination countries all around the globe reported double-digit growth rates in the first three to five months of 2008, among which in Asia and the Pacific: China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macao (China), Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Fiji, India and Nepal; in the Americas: the USA, Cuba, Jamaica, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Chile, Peru and Uruguay; in Europe: Sweden, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Israel, Malta, Montenegro and Turkey; and in Africa and the Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco.
'The anticipated softening of international tourism growth in 2008, yet still clearly at a positive level, follows four historically strong years. Between 2004 and 2007 international tourism grew at an extraordinary above average rate of 7 per cent a year, boosted by a buoyant world economy and pent-up demand after the challenges in 2001-2003... though consumer confidence indices show an increasing degree of uncertainty, international tourism has proven to be resilient in similar circumstances in the past and able to cope with various types of shocks, including security threats, geopolitical tensions or natural and man-made crisis.Accounting for these factors, coupled with a slower but still positive economic growth, international tourism is as yet expected to keep growing at a solid pace in the mid-term, broadly in line with UNWTO’s Tourism 2020 Vision forecast long-term growth rate of about 4 per cent.'
Within that framework, as would be expected the strongest tourism growth involves emerging market economies - although the top spenders in absolute terms remain the US, Germany, France and the UK. China overtook Japan and Russia overtook South Korea to rank ninth. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/12da54a2-49e4-11dd-891a-000077b07658.html
The UNWTO notes:
'International tourism in emerging & developing markets has grown at an average rate of 6-8 per cent over the past decade. Twice the rate of industrialized countries.
'Tourism is a crucial contributor to these countries’ income - up to 70 per cent for the world’s poorest countries.
Development financing from global Trade; Poverty Alleviation and Climate Response should recognize the long term potential of tourism as a sustainable growth engine.
'With international travellers projected to almost double by 2020, the most significant increases are expected to take place in markets like China, India and destinations in South-East Asia. The Gulf States and emerging Eastern Europe complete this picture, followed by the Latin American and finally African markets.Many of these are becoming important outbound markets, backed by growing middle classes on the one hand, and liberalising policies promoting mobility on the other. Chinese tourists already spent about US$ 30 billion abroad in 2007, according to UNWTO figures.The domestic travel potential of emerging markets – in 2006 China registered 1.6 billion trips and India 461 million - is a further proof of their long term importance for international tourism.Between 1996 and 2006, international tourism in developing countries expanded by 6 per cent as a whole, by 9 per cent for Least Developed Countries, and 8 per cent for other low and lower-middle income economies. ' http://www.unwto.org/media/news/en/press_det.php?id=2462&idioma=E