Malaysia

Published: Monday January 27, 2014 MYT 6:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 12:49:48 PM

International tourism, engine for economic boost

Encouraging tourism growth in the previous year also spelled economic recovery for the international community.

OVER 845 million international tourist arrivals was reported by destinations worldwide in the first nine months of 2013. That’s an estimated 41 million (5%) more than the same period in the previous year.

“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations,” said Taleb Rifai, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general.

Tourism growth was largely driven by Europe and Asia and the Pacific, both seeing tourist numbers increase by 6%.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the strong results in many European destinations, where the tourism sector is, undoubtedly, one of the engines of the economic recovery,” said Taleb.

In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrival was led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). This growth exceeds the initial forecast of 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7% a year between 2000 and 2012).

As for Asia and the Pacific, robust results were generally bolstered by Southeast Asia (+12%).

The Americas (+3%) reported comparatively weaker results, with better performance in North America (+4%) and Central America (+3%). In Africa (+5%), growth was fuelled by the recovery in North Africa (+6%) while the Middle East saw only a marginal increase (+0.3%).

The positive trend registered in international tourist arrivals is reflected in international tourism receipts reported by destinations worldwide for the first six to ten months of the year.

Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations - the United States, Macao, United Kingdom, Thailand, Hong Kong, Turkey, India, Japan, Greece and Taiwan.

The Russian Federation led the growth among the top 10 source markets, with expenditure on trips abroad up by 29% in the first nine months of the year.

This follows the strong growth in recent years, as a result of which Russia has moved up from the 12th largest outbound market in 2000 to the fifth largest in 2012 with US$43 billion (RM141.7 billion).

China, which became the number one source market in the world last year with US$102 billion (RM336.24 billion), also continued to see rapid growth, posting a 22% increase in expenditure on outbound tourism through September last year.

Outbound expenditure from other BRIC economies was also strong in Brazil (+15%). The performance of advanced economy source markets was comparatively weaker.

Canada (+3%), the United States (+2%), the United Kingdom (+2%) and France (+2%) grew moderately, while Germany reported zero growth . Japan, Australia and Italy saw declines in expenditure.

UNWTO announced the full 2013 results during its traditional press conference on Jan 20, the eve of the Spanish tourism fair FITUR.

Tags / Keywords: Travel, Lifestyle, travel, economic, international arrivals, UNWTO, international tourism, Europe, Asia

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