The most valuable outbound source markets for international tourism during 2016 were China, USA, Germany, UK and France. Overall growth in spending on international travel is estimated at around 4%, in line with the growth in the volume of travel. There are some fascinating variations when looking at the amount spent per capita on international tourism, with the figure for UK residents being $970 (£782), that for Germans $982 (£792), but for Americans it is just $375, with the majority of US citizens not owning a passport.
However, spending on international tourism by Americans jumped 8% in 2016, fuelled by a strong dollar making foreign travel more affordable. Despite the significant depreciation in the value of the pound during last year, outbound demand from the UK remained buoyant with volume up 7% and expenditure (in sterling terms) up 13.8%. In local currency terms expenditure on international tourism emerging from Germany increased by 4.9% last year, and from France there was an increase of 6.7%.
With most destinations now having reported figures for 2016 it is estimated that there were 1,235 million international tourism trips last year, up 3.9% on 2015 and the seventh consecutive year of growth.
The UNWTO Panel of Experts is forecasting that international tourist arrivals in Europe is set to increase between 2% and 3% during 2017, with the average annual growth over the period 2005-16 having been 2.8%. Some of the strongest growth in outbound travel in 2017 is anticipated as coming from the US, thanks to its continued economic growth and strong dollar. The UNWTO notes that some areas of the world may be impacted by geopolitical tensions and the risk of terrorism.
France is yet to report full-year arrivals figures for 2016 but is likely to hang on to its top spot as the most visited destination worldwide despite a decline in numbers. The USA looks as though it will just stay ahead of Spain to keep second place, but Spain saw an exceptionally strong performance last year with arrivals up 10.3%. Demonstrating the impact that geopolitical and security concerns can have on a destination the number of international tourist arrivals in Turkey fell by 29% last year.
The UK is the world’s 8th most visited destination, having seen numbers rise by 3.4% in 2016.