The tourism sector continued to enjoy above average results and recorded a third year of sustained growth as is highlighted in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) report, “Tourism highlights 2007”.
“With 846 million international tourist arrivals, corresponding to an increase of 5.4 percent over the previous year, 2006 highlighted the continuing healthy performance of emerging destinations, backed up by one of the longest periods of sustained economic expansion. “The 2006 arrivals currently estimated represent an additional 43 million over 2005’s level – marking a new record year for the industry. Of these 43 million, 22 million were for Europe, 12 million for Asia and the Pacific, and three million for each of the remaining regions – the Americas, Africa and the Middle East.”
“Africa, showing an estimated growth of nine percent, continued to record growth at almost twice the global rate. Sub-Saharan Africa, at estimated 10 percent, was the major contributor to this rise, while North Africa, at seven percent, ended the year above the world average. Asia and the Pacific maintained its positive growth level of the previous year with eight percent growth estimated. Europe performed well above target at an estimated five percent growth, while, in the Middle East, international tourist arrivals are estimated to have risen by nine percent, in spite of the overall geopolitical situation and the Israel-Lebanon crisis.
The weakest region was the Americas, whose two percent estimated growth was well below target, largely as a result of a stagnation in arrivals in Canada and Mexico. In 2006, just over half of all international tourist arrivals were motivated by leisure, recreation and holidays (51 percent), a total of 430 million. Business travel accounted for some 16 percent (131 million), and 27 percent represented travel for other purposes, such as visiting friends and relatives (VFR), religious reasons or pilgrimages, health treatment, and others (225 million). The purpose of visit for the remaining six percent of arrivals was not specified.”
“For many destinations, visitor expenditure on accommodation, food and drink, local transport, entertainment, shopping, and so on is an important pillar of their economies, creating much needed employment and opportunities for development. Some 75 countries earned more than US$ one billion from international tourism in 2006.
UNWTO estimates that worldwide receipts from international tourism reached US$ 733 billion (584 billion euros) in 2006. In absolute terms, international tourism receipts increased by US$ 57 billion (40 billion euros) in 2006 – an amount well above the receipts of the world’s second biggest tourism earner, Spain, or the combined receipts of the Middle East and Africa. In absolute volume of receipts, the biggest winner last year was still Europe, which gained an additional US$ 26 billion, lifting its total to US$ 374 billion, or 298 billion euros (51 percent of the world total). Africa added US$ 3 billion, raising to US$ 24 billion (three percent share).
Although all regions and subregions shared in last year’s absolute increase, growth rates varied. In relative terms, and as expressed in local currencies at constant prices (i.e. taking out the effect of exchange rates and inflation), international tourism receipts worldwide grew by 4.3 percent in 2006, following a 3.2 percent rise in 2005. By comparison, international tourist arrivals worldwide increased by around 5.5 percent in both 2006 and 2005. As was the case with arrivals, the relative growth in receipts was strongest in Africa (plus 10 percent).
For destination countries, receipts from international tourism count as exports and cover transactions generated by same-day as well as overnight visitors. However, these do not include receipts from international passenger transport contracted from companies outside the travellers’ countries of residence, which are reported in a separate category, ‘international passenger transport’. Although the availability of comparable international data is somewhat limited, the export value of international passenger transport has in recent years been estimated at around 17 percent of the combined receipts from international tourism and passenger transport, corresponding in 2006 to some US$ 148 billion.
This takes receipts from international tourism, including international passenger transport, to over US$ 880 billion in 2006. In other words, around US$ 2.4 billion is earned every day by international tourism.”
World's top tourism destinations
“Given the fact that the world’s leading tourism destinations show marked differences in terms of the type of tourists they attract, as well as their average length of stay and their spending per trip and per night, it is interesting to note that eight of the top 10 countries in UNWTO’s ranking of international tourist arrivals also appear in the top 10 ranking of international tourism receipts.
In terms of arrivals, France is in number one position ahead of Spain and the USA while, in the ranking for receipts, the same three countries appear in the top three places, but with the USA ranking first and France third, while Spain maintains its second place. This highlights the fact that the USA attracts a greater share of higher-spending, long-haul tourists than its European competitors, which rely much more on short-haul tourism. China, fourth in arrivals, is still fifth in terms of receipts, while the reverse is true for Italy.
The UK and Germany rank sixth and seventh, in that order, in terms of both arrivals and receipts, and Austria attracts the ninth highest number of arrivals and the tenth largest volume of receipts. Mexico and the Russian Federation complete the ranking of the top 10 destinations in terms of arrivals (in eighth and tenth places respectively), but they fall further down in the list of top tourism earners.
The remaining two places in the receipts’ ranking are taken instead by Australia (eighth position) and Turkey (ninth). In terms of international tourist arrivals, some slight changes occurred in the top 10 ranking in 2006. Germany overtook Mexico as a result of its excellent performance during the year it hosted the FIFA Football World Cup, and both Austria and the Russian Federation climbed one place to ninth and tenth, respectively.
The top 10 tourism earners last year accounted for half of the total estimated US$ 733 billion of international tourism receipts. Their combined share of international tourist arrivals was slightly lower, at 47 percent.”
“In 2006, Africa was the leading region in terms of growth in international tourist arrivals – for the second consecutive year – with the full year at a nine percent increase, plus seven percent for North Africa and plus10 percent for sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa’s growth is primarily due to Morocco’s stellar performance (plus 12 percent). Tunisia, on the other hand, had a slightly lower than average result (plus three percent). Among the major sub-Saharan African destinations that have provided data for 2006, Cape Verde (plus 22 percent), Kenya (plus 15 percent in visitor arrivals), Lesotho (plus 18 percent), Madagascar (plus 13 percent), South Africa (plus 14 percent), Sudan (plus 33 percent) and Uganda (plus 15 percent) turned in some of the best results.” UNWTO) report, “Tourism highlights 2007”.