While it may not seem that tourism is an important factor in the world employment, it actually is quite a big factor and it is only growing. In fact, according to the International Labour Organisation the tourism industry currently accounts for 9% of the world wide GDP and for 8% of the global employment. This means that the total amount of people working in the tourism industry currently is around 235 million.
The tourism industry was quite affected by the economic crisis as one may expect, but is making a huge recovery right now. Seeing as how travel, trips and vacations are luxury goods the amount of people taking one depends on the economic situation. In good times the figures will rise fast while on the other hand during economic downfall’s the amount of people going on vacation will drop. Another big factor that influences the amount of tourist and time that they are travelling is of course the standard of living in a country, or in other words the amount of GDP of a country. Because of globalisation a lot of countries had a growing GDP over the last couple of decades, this meant that more people had the time and money to go on vacation. In 2010 there were a total of 935 million international tourist, which was the first increase since the peak year 2008 (before the crisis). A large part of this growth was thanks to developing countries in which the amount of arrivals grew with 8%. Most of the international tourist still come to Europe (51%) compared to 22% in Asia and 16% in the Americas. If we look at the regional areas that grew the last year, especially the middle-east (14%) and Asia (13%) grew, while Europe made a small recovery of 3% (the difference between 2010 and 2008 still is -8% however).
Prospects for 2011 are positive all over the board as well: the general growth will be somewhere around 5% while Asia will probably experience the highest growth. If tourism keeps growing around a steady 4% a year the prospects will be that in 2019 a total of 296 million people will be working in tourism. And with the growing world economy, rising GDP’s and more and more globalisation, tourism is going to be a growing figure within the world economy. Add to this the trend of more and more people going further abroad on vacation and you can understand that a lot of developing countries will benefit greatly from tourism. In fact, it might even be a major key in resolving poverty in the world because according to the UNTWO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation), tourism accounts for 30% of the world’s export services ($1 trillion) and even 45% in developing countries. So there you have it: doing what we all love and want to do, travel, might even be a key factor in saving the world one day.
-UNTWO World Tourism Barometer report. Issue number 9, February 2011.
-UNTWO Tourism and Millennium Development Goals. 2010.