According to WTO (World Tourism Organization) Tourism is increasingly a major, if not the main, source of growth, employment, income and revenue for many of the world’s developing countries. The sector is currently the first or second source of export earnings in 20 of the 48 Least Developed Countries, and is demonstrating steady growth in at least 10 others. As such, tourism has become one of the main engines of socioeconomic progress for many countries and a development priority for a majority of the developing nations.
Boosted by improved economic conditions worldwide, international tourism has recovered faster than expected from the impacts of the global financial crisis and economic recession of late 2008 and 2009. International tourist arrivals in 2010 were up by 6.7% compared to 2009, with positive growth reported in all world regions. Worldwide, the number of international tourist arrivals reached 935 million, up 58 million from 2009 and 22 million more than the pre-crisis peak level of 2008 (913 million).
While all regions posted growth in international tourist arrivals, emerging economies remain the main drivers of this recovery. This multi-speed recovery, lower in advanced economies (+5%), faster in emerging ones (+8%), is a reflection of the broader global economic situation and is set to dominate 2011 and the foreseeable future.
The recovery in international tourism is good news, especially for those developing countries that rely on the sector for much-needed revenue and jobs. The challenge now will be to consolidate this growth over the coming years amid a still uncertain global economic environment.