In the first nine months of 2013, international tourism grew by five percent, the UNWTO recently announced. The data also shows that Greece is included in the top 10 of the destinations that saw a double-digit growth of 15 percent in international tourism receipts during that period.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the number of international tourist arrivals reported by destinations around the world increased by some 41 million between January and September, creating an important stimulus to the receiving economies.
Growth was driven by Europe and Asia and the Pacific, both seeing tourist numbers increase by six percent.
Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations: the United States (+11 percent), Macao (China, +10 percent), the United Kingdom (+18 percent), Thailand (+28 percent), Hong Kong (China, +21 percent), Turkey (+13 percent), India (+13 percent), Japan (+23 percent), Greece (+15 percent) and Taiwan (+12 percent).
Europe beats expectations
In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrivals grew by six percent led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent). This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7 percent a year between 2000 and 2012).
“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 UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
The Americas (+3 percent) reported comparatively weaker results, with better performance in North America (+4 percent) and Central America and (+3 percent). In Africa (+5 percent) growth was fuelled by the recovery in North Africa (+6 percent), while the Middle East saw only a marginal increase (+0.3 percent).
“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation,” Mr. Rifai said.
Exponential growth in outbound expenditure by China and Russia
Among the top ten source markets, the Russian Federation led growth, with expenditure on trips abroad up by 29 percent 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 5th largest in 2012 ($43 billion).
China, which became the number one source market in the world last year ($ 102 billion), also continued to see rapid growth, posting a 22 percent increase in expenditure on outbound tourism through September 2013.
UNWTO will announce full 2013 results during its traditional press conference on 20 January 2014, the eve of the Spanish tourism fair FITUR.