Tourism is one of the most dynamically growing sectors of the global economy, both in absolute and in relative terms. Being a dominant activity in many countries, it has significant multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy and contributes to the overall economic development of countries.

During the past decades tourism has achieved remarkable growth that is directly linked to the socio-economic development process, as tourism contributes significantly to an improvement of the standard of living in areas where tourism is developed and, consequently, to citizens’ prosperity.

The business volume of tourism on a global scale possibly exceeds the volume of oil, food and car exports, while remaining the basic source of income for many developing countries.

Tourism is directly linked to many other economic and production sectors. Consequently, the development of tourism offers multiple benefits in the employment sector.

The figures are indicative of the significant contribution of tourism to the global economy:

  • From 1952 tο 2005 the number of international tourism arrivals increased at a rate of 6.5% per annum and the total number of travellers soared from 25 to 806 million.
  • The resulting rate of increase in receipts from such arrivals was particularly high, approaching 11.2% for the aforementioned period, causing a gigantic increase in the global economy and approaching USD 680 billion in 2005.
  • Until 1950 the 15 top destinations absorbed 88% of global arrivals, with the percentage dropping to 75% in 1970 and 57% in 2005, resulting in a more uniform distribution of the benefits of global tourism, including new destinations, many of which are located in developing countries.
  • Year 2007 was the fourth consecutive year of steady growth of the global tourism industry, which appears to adapt well to various crises that arise.
  • Tourism suffered a major blow in 2008 as a result of the global economic crisis, leading to a downturn that continued into the first half of 2009.
  • In 2009 global arrivals fell by 4.2% compared to 2008, reaching 880 million.
  • In 2010 global arrivals were close to 940 million, an increase of about 6.6% compared to the previous year.
  • In 2011 global arrivals reached 983 million, an increase of about 4.6% compared to 2010.
  • In 2012 the recovery of tourism continued, with the international tourist arrivals reaching 1 billion for the first time.
  • In 2013 tourism is expected to continue its growth, with the international tourist arrivals increasing from 3 to 4% at global level.
  • The World Tourism Organisation expects an average annual rate of increase of about 4.1% for international tourist arrivals by 2020. Therefore, international arrivals are expected to exceed 1.5 billion travellers by then.

Global tourism faces major challenges in the 21st century, which are associated with sustainable and balanced growth, with tackling inequalities of wealth and opportunity and also with the rational distribution and management of natural resources, as is the case with all vital parts of the global economy that are faced by a constantly evolving international reality.

World Tourism Flows in 2012 and Forecasts for 2013

World Tourism Flows in 2011 and Forecasts for 2012

World Tourism World Tourism Flows in 2010 and Forecasts for 2011

World Tourism Flows in 2009 and Forecasts for 2010

World Tourism Flows in 2008 and Forecasts for 2009