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Global Tourism Industry Analysis

The global tourism & leisure industry and more particularly the tourism sector continue to thrive, with international tourist arrivals expected to build on between 4% and 5% growth in 2011, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The industry is showing signs of recovery following the last economic recession, which saw falling demand for tourism activity as consumers postponed trips to concentrate their household budgets on more essential areas.

As disposable incomes rise and a social trend towards travelling and exploring new destinations grows, the different segments of the global tourism industry are attracting greater numbers of consumers eager to travel and experience life in other countries or just optimize time off work to unwind by taking holidays.

Key Regional Markets

The US tourism industry has suffered due to the economic crisis. According to the US Travel Association, if the overseas travel industry were to climb to previous heights, it could create employment for close to 1.5 million people by 2020, adding almost $860 billion worth of cumulative economic output. International traveler spending reached almost $135 billion in 2010, with travel spending abroad reaching close to $105 billion, seeing the US benefit from a trade surplus of over $30 billion. Out of the 60 million international arrivals in the US in 2010, over 26 million came from overseas and over 33 million came from Mexico and Canada. The US is forecast to lead the hotels and motels market through 2014, according to MarketLine.

International arrivals fell 1.2% over the ten-year period ending 2010, directly employing over 930,000 people in the US, with salaries totaling almost $25 billion. Leisure travel spending exceeded $525 billion. Showing positive signs of recovery after the recession, the US tourism industry recorded employment growth of almost 1.5% in the third fiscal quarter of 2011, after a near 2.5% increase in the second quarter, according to the US Department of Commerce. The passenger transportation sector never felt the recession as people always need to travel.

The EU receives more than 475 million international arrivals each year, and had a 50% share in the global tourism industry, reports UNWTO. The region totals more than $388 million from international tourism receipts which benefits the drinking location market (bars & pub). France, Italy, Germany and Spain are among the countries with the majority of arrivals. The EU’s long-haul markets are expected to see a change from North and South America, which currently represent over 55% of trips from overseas, to trips from developing markets.  

The Chinese tourism industry is forecast to record yearly growth of about 10% between 2010 and 2015, reports BRIC Data. Factors fuelling market expansion include government initiatives, liberalization and rising affluence. Improving technical infrastructure is boosting online tourism, with e-commerce and internet paving the way for this market segment. Tourism in China has been bolstered by events such as the Asian Games, the Shanghai Expo and the Olympic Games in 2008. State investments of $1.2 trillion will help improve China’s transportation infrastructure, further supporting the country’s tourism industry. In the early part of 2011, the cities with the most budget hotels were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing, and Hangzhou. The collective number of budget hotels across these six cities reached close to 2,000, or over 36% of the country’s budget hotels, which climbed over 4% between 2010 and 2011.

India’s tourism industry overlaps with and contributes to related industries such as civil aviation, transport and hospitality, notes RNCOS. Domestic tourism is strong, and leisure and pilgrim tourism are both leading sectors. Rising income is fuelling outbound travel, with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand as popular destinations. Overseas tourist arrivals in India are forecast to record yearly growth of 8% through 2014. The industry is fragmented and intensely competitive, though not very organized.

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