Despite ongoing economic doom and gloom, the latest statistics indicate that we still have a passion to explore the world around us.
The latest statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) show that international tourist arrivals grew by 5 per cent in 2013, reaching a record 1.087 billion arrivals – that’s an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013, compared to 2012.
And the good news? Travel trends show no signs of slowing down. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts a 4.5 per cent growth – again, well above long-term projections.
And where are we going? The most in-demand destinations in 2013 were close to home. Tourism growth to Asia and the Pacific was up 6 per cent; Africa was also up 6 per cent, and Europe saw a growth of 5 per cent. The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10 per cent), Central and Eastern Europe (+7 per cent), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 per cent) and North Africa (+6 percent).
Among the 10 most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28 per cent in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26 per cent growth through September.
Other emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24 per cent), Qatar (+18 per cent), Philippines (+18 per cent), Kuwait (+15 per cent), Indonesia (+15 per cent), Ukraine (+15 per cent) and Brazil (+14 per cent).
The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6 per cent) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3 per cent. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure – incidentally, these are all countries at the top of our travel list for 2014.