With airlines offering cheaper flight options and more flights to and from all over the world, coupled with the ever growing popularity in social media of #travelgoals, tourism is thriving more than ever. According to Nikodem Szumilo, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance of the Built Environment at University College London, the growth of the global tourist industry is also partly due to the rise of digital services such as online reviews and online bookings, which means more people travel more often. Of course, the rampage of Covid-19 has more than dampened tourism’s strides in recent years, and it remains to be seen just how much it will affect tourism’s overall performance for the rest of 2020.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting facts about tourism and its effect worldwide, and additionally, take a peek at how much the currently ongoing Coronavirus global pandemic has and will continue to impact the sector.
Tourism Statistics Table of Contents
General Tourism Statistics
Global tourism has increased exponentially since the end of the second world war. The growth of the budget airlines is a major contributing factor to this phenomenon, which made travelling more accessible. Fast forward to the present time, here’s where tourism’s at today.
- There were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals in 2018, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), a 6% increase from 2017.
- In 2019, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 4%, reaching 1.5 billion.
- 2019 was another year of strong growth, but relatively slower compared to the remarkable rates of 2017 (+6%) and 2018 (+6%).
- Four-fifths of tourists travel within their own region.
- For the longest time, Europe leads the way in overseas visits, with 713 million visitors in 2018 alone.
- Worldwide destinations received 671 million international tourist arrivals between January and June 2019, almost 30 million more than the same period of 2018.
- Leisure travel has grown from 50% in 2000 to 56% in 2018.
- Air travel has increased from 46% in 2000 to 58% in 2018, while land transport has decreased from 49% to 39% in the same period.
- In 2017, tourism is the world’s third largest export category after fuels and chemicals, and ahead of food and automotive products.
- Europe accounts for almost 1 in 2 trips in the world.
- China continues to be the world’s third largest spender, with one fifth of international tourism spending, followed by the United States.
- The number of passport holders in China is expected to reach 300 million or 20% of the Chinese population by 2027.
Worldwide Tourism Statistics
Tourism is a worldwide product that shows how interconnected and dependent to each other all countries really are. It has seen continued expansion over time, despite experiencing shocks from time to time, demonstrating the strength and resilience of this sector. So how is international tourism so far?
- Asia and the Pacific is the fastest growing region in 2018 with 348 million tourist arrivals.
- Around 10% of China’s 1.4 billion citizens travel internationally.
- North America received 216 million international tourists arrivals in 2018.
- In 2019, the Middle East emerged as the fastest growing regions for international tourism arrivals, growing at almost double the global average (+8%).
- Growth in the Asia Pacific slowed down but still above average, with 5% increase in international arrivals.
- There were over 62.8 million international tourist arrivals in Africa, up 8.5% from 2016.
- In 2018, Morocco is the top African destination with 12.3 million international tourist arrivals.
- France remains the top international tourist destinations with 89.4 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, followed by Spain with 82.8 million.
- In 2018, Louvre was the top most visited museum with 10.2 million visitors.
- Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World) is the number one most visited theme and amusement parks across the globe in 2018, with 20.86 million visitors.
- The US received 79.6 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, making it still the top tourist destination in the Americas. Coming in at second place is Mexico with 41.4 million.
- In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the most visited country in 2018 with 15.3 million international tourist arrivals, down 10.7% compared to 2016 and 2017.
Economic Impact of Tourism Statistics
There’s no denying the huge economic impact tourism has in a country. There are even some countries that rely heavily on tourism to boost their economy. It creates jobs and help local businesses grow among others.
- $1.7 trillion is the total exports from international tourism in 2018.
- In 2019, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to global GDP amounted to approximately $2.9 trillion.
- In 2019, the travel and tourism industry of the US directly contributed $580.7 billion, which is the highest globally.
- Passenger air travel comprised over 50% of international inbound tourism, which translated to $812 billion in revenue for commercial airlines.
- In 2019, Macau generated the highest share of GDP (50.2%) through direct travel and tourism of any other economy across the globe.
- In 2018, Booking was the leading online travel agency with approximately $14.53 billion in revenue.
- Global leisure tourism spending reached $4,715 billion in 2019.
- In 2018, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) and Europe (+5%) enjoyed above-average growth in tourism earnings.
- Almost 40% of international tourism receipts came from Europe in 2018, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 30$.
- Tourism generates $5 billion a day in exports.
- Luxembourg has the highest receipts per arrival followed by Australia, both earning about $4,900 per international arrival.
Nations with the largest share of GDP from direct travel and tourism 2019
Countries with the highest share of GDP generated by direct travel and tourism worldwide in 2019 (in percentage)
British Virgin Islands: 25.8
British Virgin Islands%
US Virgin Islands: 23.3
US Virgin Islands%
Former Neatherlands Antilles: 23.1
Former Neatherlands Antilles%
St Kitts and Nevis: 19.1
St Kitts and Nevis%
Cape Verde: 18.6
St Lucia: 16
StatistaCreated by CompareCamp.com
Covid Impact on Tourism Statistics
There’s no wonder the Covid pandemic will significantly impact the global tourism industry in 2020 and, seemingly in the years to come. As countries implement several travel restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, both national and international tourism are on pause.
- In 2020, global revenue for the travel and tourism industry is estimated to drop by 17%.
- Europe’s travel and tourism industry revenue will be the most affected by the pandemic, decreasing from $211.97 billion in 2019 to about $124 billion in 2020.
- First quarter of 2020 international tourist arrivals decrease by 22%, with arrivals in March down by 57%.
- Current situations suggest a decline of 58% to 78% in international tourist arrivals for the rest of 2020.
- Over 100 million direct tourism jobs are at risk worldwide, with Asia Pacific region seeing the biggest loss at approximately 63.4 million jobs.
- China is supposedly seeing the biggest impact of tourism job loss, potentially losing 25.6 million jobs.
- 850 million to 1.1 billion fewer international tourist arrivals is predicted to happen.
- Potentially $910 billion to $1.2 trillion loss in export revenues from tourism.
- Global revenue for the travel and tourism industry in 2020 is estimated at $447.4 billion – a 34.7% decrease from the previous year.
- Italy will be the most affected country by the pandemic in terms of travel and tourism revenue, decreasing from $20.3 billion in 2019 to about $11.2 billion in 2020.
- The Asia Pacific region has the highest potential loss of GDP at $1.04 trillion.
- The global business travel market is expected to see a loss of $810.7 billion in revenue in 2020.
Future of Tourism: 2020 Trends
The travel restrictions imposed by countries worldwide to avoid “importing” new cases alongside the unsafe feelings associated with flights and airports will push tourism towards the domestic market. Lesser known local tourist destinations will most likely have increased exposure as the demand for less crowded places increases.
Road trips will become more common as a result of the above mentioned concerns. People would also likely opt for a nature trip since discovery and contact with nature make social distancing easier.
In the US, a Longwood survey found that out of all those who changed their travel plans for this year, 22% had switched to driving from flying. Aviation industry group Airlines for America says US airlines have idled 3,000 aircraft due to the downturn.
Travelers might also prefer staying at a sanitized vacation rental property over hotels with a lot of occupants at any given time and unsure sanitary practice.
Business travel will significantly decrease as Zoom meetings already become the norm. More and more companies are seeking to reduce business travel and even the number of employees commuting to the workplace.
Until the virus is under control or a vaccine is created and efficient systems are in place to restore confidence in travel, it’s too early to tell when people will be expected to start booking a trip again.
- Here’s how travel will change after the Covid-19 pandemic recedes
- Post-Covid-19 Travel Trends Turn to Nature | .TR
- FUTURE SHOCK: 25 travel & tourism trends post COVID 19, Marketing &
Advertising News, ET BrandEquity
- Impact assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak on international tourism | UNWTO
- International tourism growth continues to outpace the global economy | UNWTO
- UNTWO World Tourism Barometer
- International tourism up 4% in first half of 2019, UNWTO reports |
- UNTWO International Tourism Highlights
- World Tourism Barometer Nº18 January 2020 | UNWTO
- Global tourism hits record highs – but who goes where on holiday? | News |
- World Tourism rankings – Wikipedia
- Tourism worldwide – Statistics & Facts | Statista
- Forecasted change in revenue from the travel and tourism industry due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worldwide from 2019 to 2020
- COVID-19: revenue of travel and tourism industry worldwide by country
- Loss in global tourism jobs due to COVID-19 by region 2020 | Statista
- COVID-19: travel tourism revenue forecast worldwide by region 2020 |
- Amusement and theme park attendance worldwide 2018 | Statista
- Museums: highest attendance 2018 | Statista
- Countries with the highest GDP from travel and tourism 2019 | Statista
- Business travel spending worldwide 2000-2019 | Statista
- Leisure travel spending worldwide 2000-2019 | Statista
- Revenue of leading OTA’s worldwide 2018 | Statista