Hopeful News for 2010 International Tourism Trends

2009 International Tourism Recap:

International tourism in 2009 was down from $942 billion US dollars to US $842 billion globally. To put this in percentage terms, tourism receipts declined internationally by 6%. Arrivals experienced a 4% decline, indicating a correlation between the indicators. Historically, revenues in times of crisis tend to be more effected than arrivals, and 2009 is a good example of this being the case.

The top ten destination s in worldwide travel did not experience major changes for the year of 2009, even in terms of receipts and arrivals. The United States, France, and Spain are considered the top three leaders in both arrivals and receipts, though order and rankings change. The United States was the first in receipts, but second in arrivals; France was the continued leader in tourism arrivals, and was third in receipts; Spain, while third in arrivals, was the second biggest tourism earner worldwide. Germany and Turkey both climbed in 2009 rankings, respectively, to eighth and seventh place.

China’s international tourism spending grew quickly in 2009, overtaking France as the fourth largest in terms of global tourism expenditures.

Good News for2010 Global Tourism:

International tourism growth during the first two months of 2010, led by Asia, was positive in all regions globally. The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicated a 7% increase in arrivals for international tourism during January and February of 2010. This continues an upward trend that began in the last quarter of 2009, after negative results spanning 14 consecutive months. Data for March shows a continuation of the positive trend, though this data does not take into consideration the recent disruptions in air travel and air traffic due to the volcanic ash in Iceland, which affected a large portion of Europe’s airspace. The World Toursim Organization has estimated this could affect arrivals globally by half a percent once this data is included.

The UNWTO World Tourism organization still recommends caution in interpreting the indicators from early 2010, as the data from 2009 was extremely weak. Many consider the first quarter of 2009 to be the worst impact on international travel since the economic crisis began, which is worth keeping in mind before assuming a full recovery has resumed based on two months of 2010 data versus the 2009 results from January and February.

Of the 77 global tourism destinations, 60 of these (or 78%) showed positive results in January and February of 2010. Twenty four destinations reporting data showed growth in the double digits during the same period. This is encouraging news, especially from countries like Egypt, Japan, the US Virgin Islands, Israel, India, and Kenya.