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International tourism receipts grew by 4 percent in 2012

International tourism receipts grew by 4 percent in 2012

Receipts from international tourism in destinations around the world grew by 4% in 2012 reaching US$1075 billion. This growth is equal to the 4% increase in international tourist arrivals which reached 1035 million in 2012. An additional US$219 billion was recorded in receipts from international passenger transport, bringing total exports generated by international tourism in 2012 to US$1.3 trillion.

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism receipts hit a new record in 2012, reaching an estimated US$1075 billion (euro 837 billion) worldwide, up 4% in real terms, from US$1042 billion (euro 749 billion) in 2011.

“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equaled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors,” he added.

By regions, the Americas (+7%) recorded the largest increase in receipts, followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+5%) and Europe (2%). Receipts in the Middle East were still down (-2%); yet report a steady improvement compared to the decline recorded in 2011.

In absolute values, Europe saw US$457 billion in tourism earnings (euro 356 bn) equivalent to 43% of the world’s total tourism receipts, the largest share by region. Destinations in Asia and the Pacific (US$323 billion or euro 251 bn) account for 30% of international tourism receipts and the Americas (US$215 billion or euro 167 bn) for 20%. In the Middle East (4% share) total tourism receipts reached US$47 billion (euro 36 bn) and in Africa (3% share) US$34 billion (euro 26 bn).


Except for international tourism receipts (the travel item in the Balance of Payments), tourism also generates export earnings through international passenger transport. The latter amounted to an estimated US$219 billion in 2012, bringing total receipts generated by international tourism to US$1.3 trillion, or US$3.5 billion a day on average.

International tourism (travel and passenger transport) accounts for 30% of the world’s exports of services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services. As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks fifth after fuels, chemicals, food and automotive products, while ranking first in many developing countries.