Boosted by improved economic conditions worldwide, international tourism has recovered faster than expected from the impacts of the global financial crisis and economic recession of late 2008 and 2009.
International tourist arrivals were up by 6.7% compared to 2009, with positive growth reported in all world regions. Worldwide, the number of international tourist arrivals reached 935 million, up 58 million from 2009 and 22 million more than the pre-crisis peak level of 2008 (913 million).
While all regions posted growth in international tourist arrivals, emerging economies remain the main drivers of this recovery. This multi-speed recovery, lower in advanced economies (+5%), faster in emerging ones (+8%), is a reflection of the broader global economic situation and is set to dominate 2011 and the foreseeable future.
Specifically, in the Americas (+8% to 151 million) rebounded from the decline in 2009 brought on by the economic hardship suffered in North America and the impact of the influenza A(H1N1) outbreak. The return to growth in the US economy has helped improve the region’s results as a whole, as did the increasing regional integration in Central and South America and the vitality of Latin American economies. Growth was strongest in South America (+10%).
The Caribbean and Central America are just back at 2008 levels, while in Central and Eastern Europe, and Southern and Mediterranean Europe growth was still insufficient to make up for the lost tourist flows of 2009. In contrast, Northern Europe did not return to positive growth in 2010.
Growth in international tourism receipts continued to lag somewhat behind that of arrivals during 2010, as is the trend during periods of recovery. Among the top outbound tourism markets in terms of expenditure abroad, emerging economies continued to drive growth: China (+17%), the Russian Federation (+26%), Saudi Arabia (+28%) and Brazil (+52%). Of the traditional source markets, Australia (+9%), Canada (+8%), Japan (+7%) and France (+4%) rebounded, while more modest growth at 2% came from the USA, Germany and Italy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, expenditure abroad from the UK was still down by 4% in 2010.