2010 numbers show tourism is helping global economic recovery
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Global tourism has bounced back to pre-recession levels, with total international tourist arrivals totaling 642 million from January to August 2010 (the latest figures available), 40 million (7percent) more than during the same period in 2009, and 1 million more than during the record 2008 tourism year.
Based on those numbers, the World Tourism Organization expects the 2010 total to climb about 5 or 6 percent above 2009, with more moderate growth of about 4 percent expected in 2011. Emerging economies continued to lead the way, growing through August at a rate of 8 percent, compared with 5 percent for advanced economies.
“These results reinforce the message that we have been underscoring since the outbreak of the global crisis at the end of 2008 – that tourism is one of the most dynamic economic sectors and a key driver in creating much needed growth and employment,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, presenting the data during the UNWTO Ministers’ Summit at the World Travel Market in London.
“Tourism has been seriously impacted by the global crisis, but less than other export sectors, and is currently rebounding faster and more robustly. We call upon governments worldwide, as well as multilateral forums such as the G-20, to place tourism higher on their agendas as the sector can contribute to our common objectives of sustaining recovery, regaining jobs and promoting sustainable development,” he added.
July and August, the traditional high-season months in the Northern Hemisphere, set new records, with 112 million and 108 million international arrivals respectively, an 8 million increase from the peak year of 2008 and 12 million more than during the 2009 recession. Results were strongest in March (+9 percent), May (+11 percent) and June (+9 percent), in contrast to the negative trends during those same months a year earlier. April showed the weakest results (+2 percent) following the closure of European airspace due to the Icelandic volcano’s ash cloud.
Although recovery is still lagging in parts of Europe and the Americas, many destinations are already showing real growth and setting new records. Asia and the Pacific has once again shown resilience and a strong capacity for recovery. The region was caught quite early and suddenly by the economic crisis but was also the first to show signs of recovery, posting an impressive 14 growth in international arrivals through August 2010. Compared with the pre-crisis year of 2008, the region has already gained an extra 10 million international tourist arrivals. Most destinations have registered double-digit growth rates, many even above 20 percent.
Growth was also strong in the Middle East (+16 percent), although this is compared to a very depressed first eight months in 2009. Africa (+9 percent), the only region to show growth in 2009, maintained the momentum, further helped by the worldwide publicity created by the FIFA World Football Cup hosted by South Africa.
In the Americas (+8 percent), growth has been strong in North and Central America (+9 percent each). South America (+7 percent) is on a par with the worldwide average, while the Caribbean (+3 percent) is showing a lower rate of growth.
Europe (+3 percent) is recovering at a slower pace, due to the uneven economic recovery and the impact of the volcanic ash cloud in April. However, most destinations reported positive figures for the period May to August, in particular in Western Europe (+4 percent), Central and Eastern Europe (+4 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+2 percent). Northern Europe, down 3 percent from 2009, is the only sub-region in the world still registering negative results, pulling the average of the region down.
As on previous occasions, such as after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the 2003 SARS outbreak, tourism has again confirmed a strong capacity for recovery. Following a decline of 4 percent in international tourist arrivals in 2009, the sector is showing real growth and is expected to beat previous records by the end of 2010.