International tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 1.8 billion by 2030 according to the newly released UNWTO long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030.
The finding suggests international tourism will continue to grow during the period, but at a more moderate pace than the past decades, with the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide increasing by an average 3.3 per cent a year.
As a result, an average 43 million additional international tourists will join the tourism marketplace every year.
At the projected pace of growth, arrivals will pass the one billion mark by 2012, up from 940 million in 2010.
By 2030, arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion, meaning that in two decades’ time, five million people will be crossing international borders for leisure, business or other purposes such as visiting friends and family every day.
“The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector – a more moderate, responsible and inclusive growth,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
“This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability.”
Emerging economies to continue gaining market share
International arrivals in emerging economy destinations are expected to continue growing at double the pace (4.4 per cent year) of advanced ones.
In absolute terms, the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East and Africa will gain an average 30 million arrivals a year, compared to 14 million in the traditional destinations of the advanced economies of North America, Europe and Asia and the Pacific.
By 2015, emerging economies will receive more international tourist arrivals than advanced economies, and by 2030 their share is expected to reach 58 per cent.
There will be increases in the global market shares of Asia and the Pacific (to 30 per cent in 2030, up from 22 per cent in 2010), the Middle East (to eight per cent from six per cent) and Africa (to seven per cent from five per cent), and further declines in the shares of Europe (to 41 per cent from 51 per cent) and the Americas (to 14 per cent from 16 per cent), mostly due to the slower growth of North America.
By 2030, North East Asia will be the most visited sub-region in the world, representing 16 per cent of total arrivals and taking over from Southern and Mediterranean Europe, with a 15 per cent share in 2030.
Outbound tourism to grow most in Asia and the Pacific
A large proportion of the arrivals of the next two decades will originate from the countries of Asia and the Pacific, growing at a rate of five per cent a year and generating an average 17 million additional international arrivals every year.
Europe follows with an average 16 million extra arrivals a year, resulting from a much more moderate growth rate (2.5 per cent a year), but on top of a much larger base.
The remaining ten million additional yearly arrivals are generated by the Americas (five million), Africa (three million) and the Middle East (two million).
“Tourism Towards 2030 shows that there is still significant potential for further expansion in the coming decades,” added Rifai.
“Established, as well as new destinations, can benefit from this trend and opportunity, provided they shape the appropriate conditions and policies with regard to business environment, infrastructure, facilitation, marketing and human resources.
“Nevertheless, alongside this opportunity, challenges will also arise in terms of maximizing tourism’s social and economic benefits while minimizing negative impacts.
“As such, it is more important than ever that all tourism development be guided by the principles of sustainable development.”