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Exports from international tourism rise to US$1.5 trillion in 2014

Published:Wednesday | April 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

International tourism receipts increased by US$48 billion in 2014 to reach a record US$1.245 billion. An additional US$221 billion was generated from international passenger transport, bringing total exports from international tourism up to US$1.5 trillion.

Receipts from international visitors spending on accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, shopping and other goods and services and reached an estimated US$1.245 billion in 2014, an increase of 3.7 per cent in real terms (taking into account exchange rate fluctuations and inflation). International tourist arrivals increased by 4.4 per cent in 2014, reaching a total 1.135 million, up from 1.087 million in 2013.

Aside from international tourism receipts (the travel item of the balance of payment), tourism also generates export earnings through international passenger transport services (rendered to non-residents). The latter amounted to an estimated US$221 billion in 2014, bringing total exports from international tourism up to US$1.5 trillion, or US$4 billion a day on average.

"International tourism is an increasingly significant component of international trade as seen in export earnings from international tourism and passenger transport, which reached US$ 1.5 trillion in 2014," said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.

"In a scenario with decreasing commodity prices, spending on international tourism grew significantly in 2014, proving the sector's capacity to stimulate economic growth, boost exports and create jobs," he added.

International tourism (travel and passenger transport) represents 30 per cent of the world's exports of services and six per cent of overall exports of goods and services. As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks fourth after fuels, chemicals and food, ranking first in many developing countries.

International tourism receipts grew in all regions

Europe, which accounts for 41 per cent of worldwide international tourism receipts, saw an increase in tourism earnings in absolute terms of US$17 billion to US$ 509 billion (€383 billion). Asia and the Pacific (30 per cent share) saw an increase of US$16 billion, reaching US$ 377 billion (€284 billion). In the Americas, (22 per cent share), receipts increased by US$10 billion to a total of US$274 billion (€206 billion). In the Middle East (four per cent share), tourism receipts increased by an estimated US$4 billion to US$ 49 billion (€37 billion) and in Africa (three per cent share) by US$1 billion to US$36 billion (€27 billion).

By subregion, Northern Europe, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North-East Asia, Oceania, South Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the Middle East showed fastest growth in relative terms, all recording plus five per cent or over in receipts.

Top earners: China and the United Kingdom move up in the top ten

In the top 10 ranking by tourism earnings, China climbed from fifth to third place following a 10 per cent increase in earnings to US$ 57 billion in 2014. The United States (US$177 billion) and Spain (US$65 billion) maintained first and second positions in the ranking. The United Kingdom (UK) (US$45 billion) moved up two positions to seventh, boosted by the lasting effects of the Olympics and the appreciation of the UK pound (increasing receipts calculated in US dollar terms). France, Macao (China) and Italy occupy the fourth to sixth positions, respectively, while Germany, Thailand and Hong Kong (China) complete the top 10.

Please note that the above data is preliminary and is subject to revision.