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Global tourism industry - statistics & facts

Published by S. Lock,
It is difficult to define the tourism industry, as unlike with other industries, there is not one clear product. It incorporates many industries, including lodging, transport, attractions, travel companies, and more. In its broadest sense, tourism is defined as when people travel and stay in places outside of their usual environment for less than one consecutive year for leisure, business, health, or other reasons. Globally, travel and tourism's direct contribution to GDP was approximately 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. When looking at countries that directly contributed the most to global GDP the United States’ travel and tourism industry contributed the largest sum at 580.7 billion U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, in a ranking of the countries with the highest share of GDP from travel and tourism the city and special administrative region of Macau generated the highest share of GDP through direct travel and tourism of any economy worldwide.

The growth of global travel

Traveling both internationally and domestically has become increasingly common all over the world. As a result, both leisure travel spending and business travel spending have seen year-over-year growth over the past five years. This increase in travel has also allowed the number of hotel guests and in turn the hotel industry's market size to grow. Key performance indicators such as RevPAR (revenue per available room), ADR (average daily rate), and occupancy have seen year-over-year growth over the past decade due to an influx of tourists across the globe. Meanwhile, another industry that has profited from people’s penchant for travel is the airline industry - with the revenue of the global commercial airline industry reaching 838 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

What are the most popular tourist destinations?

Once tourists arrive at their travel destination, they can choose from a plethora of sightseeing options and attractions. One famous landmark that keeps seeing record visitation figures is the Louvre in Paris, with attendance reaching 9.6 million in 2019. This made it one of the most visited museums in the world. The French capital is well-known for its museums, having come top in a ranking of cities with the most number of museums worldwide. However, it also drew a significant number of visitors to the gates of one of its most family-friendly attractions - Disneyland Park, Paris. That being said, when compared to the other most visited amusement and theme parks worldwide, attendance at Disneyland Park was more than half of that of its fellow Disney theme park, Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World) in the U.S. Thanks to these and other sights, France remains top of this list of leading destinations for international tourist arrivals.

Digitization of the tourism sector

It has become increasingly common for travelers to book their own trips, however, there are still those who use travel agencies to do so. With the developing digitization of the travel industry, many consumers turn to online travel agencies to book their trips. Some of the leading travel companies in the online travel market are Booking Holdings and the Expedia Group. When looking at the revenue of leading online travel agencies (OTA's) worldwide, these two companies came in respective first and second place with revenues of 15.07 billion and 12.07 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.

How important is sustainable tourism?

One major trend that travel agencies and the tourism industry will have to adapt to in the future is the increasing global interest in environmentally friendly travel. In a 2019 United Nations report "Transport Related CO2 Emissions of the Tourism Sector" tourism was shown to be a significant contributor to climate change. Nowadays, a growing number of tourists have begun recognizing the negative impact their trips can have on affected regions. As a result, more and more global travelers believe in the importance of sustainable travel and green travel choices. One way to put this into practice is by staying in eco-friendly or green accommodations – a concept that has helped companies like Airbnb become more popular.

The impact of COVID-19 on global tourism

Another factor that is predicted to significantly impact the global tourism industry in 2020 and, presumably, years to come, is the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As countries implemented severe travel restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, national and international tourism came to a drastic halt. It was estimated that the global revenue of the travel and tourism industry would drop by 17 percent in 2020. When looking at a regional tourism revenue breakdown, Asia was forecast to see the greatest decrease in revenue, as well as the highest tourism employment loss from COVID-19 in the entire industry. While the long-term economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic cannot fully be assessed yet, the standstill of public life is already affecting not only tourism but also industries connected to tourism, for example, global restaurant visitation, theater performances, and events.

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Tourism worldwide

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Hotels

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