Europe still the largest source market, while US leads in tourism revenue
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — France, the USA and Spain held on to their top tourism spots in 2009, with China and Italy close behind.
France once again was the world’s most popular destination, tallying 74 million visitors for the year, while the USA generated the most revenue ($94 billion) and was second in arrivals. Spain is the second-biggest earner worldwide and the largest in Europe, ranking third in arrivals during 2009.
Emerging tourism giant China ranked fourth in arrivals in fifth in revenue earned, while Italy was fifth in arrivals and fourth in revenue. The UK is sixth in terms of arrivals and seventh in receipts. Turkey and Germany each climbed up a spot to the seventh and eighth positions respectively, with Australia, Mexico and Austria rounding out the top 10, according to figures compiled by the World Tourism Organization.
Europe’s tourism industry, the the world’s largest and most mature, was hardest hit by the recession. The region accounted for 52 percent of international tourist arrivals and 48 percent of international tourism receipts in 2009, saw arrivals drop by 6 percent to 460 million, while revenues declined 7 percent in real terms to $ 413 billion.
Central and Eastern Europe were particularly badly hit, while results in Western, Southern and Mediterranean Europe were relatively better. Many countries in Central and Eastern Europe were more severely affected by the global recession and found the return to growth more difficult. Overall, arrivals in the subregion dropped by 10 percent.
There were a few exceptions. Hungary, Sweden, Turkey and Italy all saw tourism grow slightly in 2009 despite the economic challenges of 2009, while other Central European countries with with easy overland access saw only slight declines. A historically weak British currency affected tourism destinations that rely on outbound tourists from the UK, including Cyprus and Spain.
Along with the recession, concerns about swine flu affected tourism throughout the Americas, according to the WTO, as arrivals in the key months of May through July, 2009 showing big drops. International tourist arrivals for the year fell by 5 percent to 141 million (16 percent of world total), while international tourism receipts decreased by 10 percent, to US$ 165 billion (19 percent of the world total).
The USA and Mexico both saw arrivals drop by 5 percent and Canada was down 8 percent. South America wasn’t hit quite as hard by the recession as some other parts of the world and contained the tourism decline at 1 percent. Several countries saw impressive growth, including Bolivia ( up 13 percent), Colombia ( up 11 percent), Uruguay ( up 7 percent). But the growth in those countries couldn’t completely offset the declines in the major tourist destinations, Argentina and Brazil, where arrivals dropped by 8 and 6 percent respectively.
Central America arrivals declined by 7 percent, with Nicaragua (plus 9 percent) as a notable exception to the regional trend.
The source markets for international tourism are still largely concentrated in the industrialized countries of Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific. However, with rising levels of disposable income, many emerging economies have shown fast growth over recent years, especially in North-East and South-East Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southern Africa and South America.
Europe is currently the largest source market, generating 55 percent of international arrivals worldwide, followed by Asia and the Pacific (20 percent) and the Americas (16 percent). As a result of the global economic recession, outbound tourism from all regions declined in 2009, with the exception of Africa.
Germans ($81 billion), Americans ($73 billion) and Brits ($50 billion) continued to be the biggest tourism spenders, with China ($44 billion) passing France ($38 billion) to take the fourth spot.
China has shown by far the fastest growth in international tourism spending in the last decade. In 2009 expenditures still increased by a whopping 21 percent. Of the other nine top spenders only one — the Netherlands — recorded positive growth.