View Point: Economic distribution among tourism destinations
Friday, March 27, 2009
The contribution of tourism in the economy of nations across the world can neither be over-emphasised no underestimated.
The attraction of tourism investment, coupled with tourism returns: employment generation, foreign exchange earning, creation of investment opportunities, as a source of balance of payment for nations and a gateway to international trading, are some of the factors why nations continue to attach great prominence to tourism.
Economically, tourism continues to play a significant role in shaping the lives of the ordinary citizens, as well as giving new looks to destinations. According to the UNWTO, a United Nations agency responsible for travel and tourism issues, tourism employs 231 million people worldwide, and generates over 10.4% of the global GDP.
Historically, the UNWTO has indicated that international tourism receipts have gone from US$264 billion in 1990 to US$678 billion in 2005, with estimates to reach US$735 billion in 2006. Invariably, international tourism arrivals grew at an annual rate of 6.5%, growing from 25 million to 806 million travellers from 1950 to 2005. The incomes generated by these arrivals grew at an even stronger rate, reaching 11.2% during the same period, outgrowing the pace of the world economy, reaching around US$680 billion in 2005.
Meanwhile, in 1950 the top 15 destinations absorbed 88% of international arrivals; in 1970 the proportion was 75% and decreased to 57% in 2005, reflecting the emergence of new destinations many of which are the developing countries, and by 2020 international arrivals are to exceed 1.5 billion people (BERA: Business & Economic Research Advisor). In terms of arrivals, the top destinations for 2006 are: France, Spain and the USA followed by China, Italy, UK, Germany, Austria, Mexico and Russia, in that order. These ten countries account for 51% of the total receipts and USA tops in receipts because tourists tend to stay longer and spend more.
Europe equally continues to be a key destination in terms of both arrivals and receipts and by 2006 Europe as a destination, increased by $27 billion in receipts to reach US$378 billion. However, the desirability of Asia and the Pacific regions as destinations also increased and earned US$24 billion and the Americans increasing to US$153 billion (BERA).
According to the (WTO's) Tourism 2020 vision forecast, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa are forecast to show record growth of rates of over 5% annually, compared to the world average of 4.190. The more matured regions of Europe and Americas are expected to show lower than average growth rates. Europe will continue to maintain the highest share of world tourist arrivals, though there will be a decline from 60% in 1995 to 46% in 2020. According to the same source, overall there will be an actual increase of travel with one of the biggest influences being the inevitable influx of baby boomers and aging populations worldwide, who have retired and take up travel as a leisure pursuit. Also, business travel in general is likely to increase, especially with growing numbers of business travel from India and China.
Consequently, it could be noted that tremendous gains have been achieved both in terms of receipts and arrivals due mainly to the rebound of business travel even after the attacks of the 9/11. Equally, luxury travel has also seen a big gain, the use of the first class and business class on airlines has increased and eventually the bookings for luxury hotels are in the increase; Eco-tourism - so-called Adventure tourism are becoming increasingly popular. In the long run, destinations will become more exotic especially for the super wealthy, who are toying with such exotic travel experiences as space and submarine travel.
The fact that travel and tourism create jobs and wealth and has tremendous potentials to contribute economically, in both developed and emerging nations, it has a comparative advantage in that its start up and running costs can be low, compared to many other forms of industrial development. It is often one of the few realistic options for development in many areas.
Therefore, there is a strong likelihood that Travel and Tourism industry will continue to grow globally, bringing more economic benefits to destination countries. This compels all to treasure this multi-billion-dollar industry.
Author: by Kebba Ansu Manneh, Institute of Travel & Training, The Gambia.