UNWTO: China and Thailand top league

MADRID, 4 September 2018: Tourism is booming worldwide and causing concerns that destinations could be overwhelmed causing a push-back from residents.

UNWTO’s latest assessment of international tourist arrivals claims a growth of 7% last year, the highest increase since 2010.

It released details, last week, in the World Tourism Organisation collection of “Tourism Highlights”.

Both China and Thailand gained slots in the top-10 for arrivals, while Thailand appeared in the top revenue earners list in fifth place.  Two other Asian notables, Macau and Japan, appeared in the top-10 list for tourism earnings.

Growth in arrivals was echoed by a strong increase in exports generated by tourism, which reached USD1.6 trillion in 2017, making tourism the world’s third-largest export sector industry.

‘UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition’ shows that international tourist arrivals reached 1,323 million in 2017, some 84 million more than the previous year.

Worldwide, tourism has experienced uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years.

2017’s growth was the highest since 2010, led by Europe and Africa, which received increases in arrivals of 8% and 9%, respectively.

International tourism receipts increased by 5% in 2017. In addition to the USD1.3 trillion that destinations earned, international tourism generated another USD240 billion from international passenger transport taken by non-residents.

This raised tourism exports to USD1.6 trillion, or USD4 billion a day, which corresponds to 7% of the world’s exports.

The new report illustrates that China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent USD258 billion on international tourism in 2017. This is almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spend in 2017, which stood at USD1.3 trillion, some USD94 billion more than in 2016.

Arrivals: The top-10
France 86.9m
Spain 81.8m
USA 75.9m
China 60.7m
Italy 58.3m
Mexico 39.3m
UK 37.6m
Turkey 37.6m
Germany 37.5m
Thailand 35.4m

Top earners

France was top in USD earnings from tourism followed by Spain. Japan entered the top-10 for tourism earnings in 10th place after six straight years of double-digit growth. Thanks to its gaming industry, Macau gained ninth place.

Thailand in fifth place suggests it is no longer a low-revenue haven having secured strong earnings from its luxury travel products, medical tourism, business travel and MICE.

Top-10 in billion USD
USA 210.7
Spain 68
France 60.7
Thailand 57.5
UK 51.2
Italy 44.2
Australia 41.7
Germany 39.8
Macau 35.6
Japan 34.1

Available data for early 2018 has since confirmed international tourism’s continued strong growth, with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April.

(Source: UNWTO)