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Global tourism hits record highs - but who goes where on holiday?

Global tourism hits record highs - but who goes where on holiday?

With the increasing rate of global tourism yearly, we took a glance at what are some favorite destinations for 1.4 bn world tourists and what are the merits and demerits of this hiked tourism on the host countries.

According to the reports of the world tourism organization (UNTWO), a total number of 1.4 bn tourists traveled globally in 2018 with a rise of 6% from the global tourists in 2017. There has been an increase in the number of tourists traveling abroad each year and hence has become difficult for the UNTWO to keep a track on the exact tourism rate.

The hick in tourism has affected the global economy largely. In 2018, it was totaling 2% global GDP growth rate or about $1.7 tn (£1.3 tn) worth.

Pocket-friendly travel has increased the tourism rate globally. With the blend of technology with the tourism industry, it has become hassle-free for travelers to plan their journey before their vacations. Online flights and hotels booking system have made traveling budget friendly as travelers can now get to choose from a plenty of options available.

Revolutionized industry of tourism has shifted most of their work online, which has made it easily accessible to travelers from any part worldwide. Also, since there has been a significant increase in the competition in this sector, this has resulted in reduced prices plus satisfactory travel.

Europe is so far, topping the list of a number of overseas travelers each year with France being the most popular country amongst all. In the year 2018, Europe alone hosted 713 million overseas travelers. Spain follows the list of most popular tourist destinations with the USA, China, and Italy digging their place in the top five.

Since the trend of unconventional destinations has become popular in the young travelers to let their traveling souls glance new places each time, there has been a rise in global tourism in places like Sub Saharan and Middle East countries. Alone 10% rise in tourism was observed in North Africa last year.

Following the reports sent by Uber, “Empire State Building” was the most popular tourist attraction among the Uber users in 2018 with “World Trade Center” also known as WTC/Freedom Tower being the second most popular destination. CN Tower in Canada, the Eiffel Tower (Paris) and Burj Khalifa (Dubai) also topping the list.

China being the most populated country has resulted in the production of a maximum number of global travelers in the world. The number of travelers in a country depends majorly on its population and the economic growth of that country. According to, In the year 2017, 143 million Chinese people traveled abroad, followed by Germany (92 million), US (87.8 m) and the UK (74.2 m).

Comparing the total number of trips, inbound and outbound travel combined, Finland tops the chart with 7.50 total trips undertaken as a person per year. The Finns are followed by the people of the United States with 6.70, Swedish with 6.00, Danish with 5.30 and Norwegians with 5.20.

Finnish people are able to make maximum inbound and outbound visits due to their high income and lower unemployment rate. They have a warm, welcoming and travel-oriented culture too, which makes them top the list.

London is the most popular destination within the United Kingdom. More than a half of the total number of tourists visiting the UK each year is concentrated to London with Edinburgh being the second most popular destination among the travelers.

Since such a vast number of travelers visits Europe each year, tourism in Europe has effects on its GDP. This industry has been playing a role in almost 2.5% of Britain’s GDP growth rate.

Although there has been recorded a slight decline in the tourism growth rate last year but so far, it has been estimated by VisitBritain- the official tourism board- that by the end of 2025, the tourism industry will be paying off almost 10% GDP of Britain. Also, they will be successfully employing more than one in ten individual in Europe in this tourism industry.

It is mainly the political agenda, says Claudio Milano from Ostelea School of Tourism by disagreeing to the fact that Brexit can have any impact of the tourism of Britain in the coming years. He said that the only sector which can possibly be impacted is the working staff of tourism industries as these workers are mostly migrants. “So although there can be an impact on the workforce by the Brexit but it cannot change the dynamism of Britain,” He said.

The decrease in tourism could be a possibility for Britain since, with ‘no deal’ propaganda, the complexity in the travel will increase as EU tourists will have to apply for fresh passports to visit Britain. Also, the air travel within Europe will not be as smooth like it used to be as no deal Brexit could lead to cancellation of up to 5 million flights.

In an interview, Steve Ridgway, the chairman of VisitBritain said that there has been an estimate that European visitors will continue to decline in 2019 due to Brexit referendum. But he also said that despite the sentiment across Europe turning somewhat sour in recent years, that negative perception had not necessarily led to fewer visitors. “People have been a bit unsure about whether Britain is as welcoming, but we haven’t really seen it in bookings. A bit of softening, but people are pretty resolute” he said.

UNESCO has threatened to remove Dubrovnik’s World Heritage Site status unless it controls the tourist numbers, local people in Venice organized an angry protest in 2017 against the overcrowding of tourists saying that they can no longer get their food shopping or visit relatives.

As exciting and adventurous as a journey to a beautiful island or to the mountains may sound, it has some major horrifying impact on the wildlife and natives of that place. The single-use plastic is one of the worst outcomes of tourism. The popular places are filled with dumps of plastic here and there which is affecting not only the environment but the lifestyle of native communities too.

The overcrowded places have destroyed the natural charm of most of the tourist’s destinations. Mountains are no longer peaceful due to traffic jams and loud horns while beaches have become a dumping ground for plastics and beer bottles.

Natural habitat is also being destroyed for the sake of spreading tourism industry widely by building more hotels each year.

It has also been observed that due to seasonal overcrowding of tourists at certain hotspots, the localities often suffer from the water shortage. Not only has this but the natives also suffer from hiked prices in shops as the tourists are mostly richer than the local people so the localities have to face this trouble for the popular seasons each year.

People have claimed that over tourism is due to the lack of government to understand the negative effects of tourism on their country, poor planning and increase in the economic statuses of the countries providing tourists.

But the major cause is the collusion between government, airlines and cruise ships. They have been creating cheap travel sources for tourists that is ultimately benefitting the whole tourism industry and to the government at the cost of the environment and the taxpayers of that country.

Marketing can also be blamed for overcrowded tourist’s places. Whenever a tourist’s spot is identified, all the companies hop on to promote that spot with eye-catching photographs and cheap offers. 

Cruises are the behemoth in the problem of over tourism as they carry thousands of travelers and unload them all at once on the beachside. Vince has been suffering from this problem for a long time.

The picturesque city of Bruges has decided to minimize the number of cruise ships docking in the seasonal months and to lower the rate of advertisements worldwide. Mayor of Burges, Dirk De Fauw is getting fed up with the over tourism saying that “we have to control the influx more if we don’t want Burges to become a complete Disneyland here.”

Rome has stricken the rules for tourism with banning the shirtless sightseeing and crack down on the drunken tourists.

The love padlocks on the bridges of Paris by romantic travelers are also being removed. “They spoil the aesthetics of the bridges and can cause accidents,” says the deputy of the mayor.

Additional to these steps, it is also important that we not only focus on the number of travelers but try to understand some other aspects of tourism as well.

According to Milano, “we need to throw some light upon factors like gender equality, jobs, and localities liveability in tourism too to strengthen the system as a whole.”
Tourism plays a crucial role in the economy of any country and conserving the same has been a major criterion for governments these days, but due to adverse effects of over tourism it has become the need of the hour to focus on these strands too that are connected with this industry to understand the real meaning of tourism.