One of the biggest and most profitable industries globally is the tourism sector with an economic contribution of nearly US$ seven trillion in 2013. World Tourism Organization (WTO) data for 2014 will only be released this year. Meanwhile, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that tourism’s contribution to global gross domestic product (GDP) rose to US$7.6 trillion (9.8 percent) in 2014. Developed nations like the United States and France have remained consistently well-liked destinations. However, less-developed countries are slowly emerging as favorite spots of travelers.
The industry’s direct economic impact was valued at US$2.2 trillion in the same year. These included the components of attractions, accommodations, entertainment, and transportation. All over the world, the tourism industry has seen unwavering growth practically every year. In fact, world tourism arrivals went up from 528 million in 2005 to 1.09 billion in 2013.
These numbers are expected to go beyond 1.8 billion after 15 years or 2030. Europe has received the most number of international tourist arrivals for several years. The continent also produced the largest number of travelers with around 566 million outbound travelers in 2013. It is twice more than that of the Asia and Pacific regions.
In 2013, international tourism revenues climbed up to just about US$ 1.16 trillion which is almost twice since 2005. China led all nations in tourism expenditures. The United States and Germany were the next two leading spenders. On the other hand, London was the top city in terms of international visitor spending where tourists spent more over US$ 19 billion in 2014.
The table below shows the top 10 countries with the most number of tourist arrivals and benefitted from their respective tourism industries in 2014 are the following:
Importance of Tourism in Developing and Least Developed Nations.
For developing and least developed nations, tourism and travel can be the most practical and sustainable option for economic progress. It has even become the primary means of foreign exchange income in many countries. A portion of this revenue can be directed towards poverty alleviation and benefit local citizens through employment.
In recent years, tourism has been distinguished by two major trends. One is the consolidation of conventional tourism destinations such as those in North America and Western Europe. The other is via well-defined geographical expansion. There has been significant diversity of destinations. Various developing countries saw their tourist arrivals grow drastically with tourists’ expenditures generating income for the community.
Tourism can supply jobs directly to communities such as tour guide services or hotel housekeeping. Meanwhile, indirect employment is made available through other industries like retail, agriculture and food production. However, there are also collateral benefits since tourism flow can lead to infrastructure development. It will necessitate the construction of more airports, roads, restaurants, retail shops, and other commercial establishments.
There are also social and environmental benefits such as bringing a true sense of self-respect and identity for many communities. Tourism also helps to showcase history and culture of different civilizations. On the other hand, environmental benefits include financial support for projects aimed at preserving ecosystems as well as the proper management of natural resources.
Tourism in the Developing World
Tourism makes use of human, natural, cultural and physical resources which used to be inactive or not fully utilized. Above all, it bolsters human capital and socio-economic productivity which are both principal factors in development. Tourism is a potent tool to augment knowledge, consciousness and skills. It fosters personal achievements, full involvement in any society and growth of institutions.
For more than 50 years, tourism has been growing at a faster pace compared to global commerce. This trend seems to be permanent based on forecasts of the World Tourism Organization. Even as developing countries maintain a minor position in tourist movements worldwide, their performances are getting better faster than the international average.
In short, tourism provides genuine prospects for diversification. This industry imparts important foreign currency exchange and revenues for governments through taxation. It is not only a main source of employment as well as instrument for socio-economic advancement.