International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013 International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013.
For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections. Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%). “2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added. UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020.
Tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%)
The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years. “The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai. 2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile. Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012.
By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results. In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).
In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each)
The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012. Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile. Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013 Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September. The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.
Other emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).
TOKYO (Nikkei)–Japan’s tourism industry is hoping to parlay Mt. Fuji’s imminent status as a World Heritage site into a growth opportunity, and Asian tourists are seen playing a central role.
“Mt. Fuji will grow more popular with foreign tourists once it changes from being merely a symbol of Japan to a mountain for all of the world,” said Yoshiaki Togawa, president of the Yamagishi Ryokan, a century-old inn located at the foot of the iconic volcano.
The 3,776m-high mountain will officially be awarded World Heritage site status on Friday at the earliest by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is currently meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Togawa, who also runs the Tominoko Hotel and two other hotels near Mt. Fuji, is preparing for an influx in foreign visitors to the area.
“I will promote our hotels and inns as choice accommodations through our English and Chinese websites,” he said.
Head For The Hills
Travel agencies are ramping up marketing efforts targeting foreign tourists. JTB Corp. on June 6 rolled out a four-day, 100km trekking tour from Mt. Takao in western Tokyo to Mt. Fuji, and a two-day tour that provides car transportation to the mountain’s fifth station, located high on the peak’s flanks. Prices start at 248,000 yen for the four-day tour and 94,000 yen for the two-day tour.
“Roughly 100,000 foreigners climb Mt. Fuji each year,” said an official at JTB. “The World Heritage site status will boost the number further.”
Willer Alliance Inc., a long-distance bus operator, is selling a Mt. Fuji trekking package targeting foreign tourists at prices starting from 15,900 yen. The tours will be conducted in July and August and include professional guides and English-speaking interpreters, who will coach tourists on mountaineering skills along the way.
East Japan Railway Co. (9020) will partner with Fuji Kyuko Co. (9010) to operate a new direct express service from JR Shinjuku Station to Fuji Kyuko’s Kawaguchiko Station this summer in the hope of attracting more rail travelers to Mt. Fuji.
Breaking New Ground
The number of foreign visitors to Japan has been rising recently. The Japan National Tourism Organization reported that the number of visitors in April rose 18% on the year to 923,000, setting a new record for the first time in two years and nine months.
The government will from this summer exempt Thai and Malaysian tourists from visa requirements. It also plans to issue multiple-entry visas to Philippine and Vietnamese tourists so that they can visit Japan an unlimited number of times within a designated period.
The easing of visa requirements, along with the weakening of the Japanese currency, is expected to help bring in more foreign tourists, and Mt. Fuji’s new status will only add to that growth momentum.
– Translated from an article by Nikkei staff writers Kosuke Iwano and Hideki Shinohara
(The Nikkei Business Daily, June 18 edition)
This winter, thousands of UK tourists will flock to Thailand for rest and relaxation. Seduced by visions of white sand, full moon parties, and cocktails, this land of ancient empire and distinct religious tradition has carved a niche in British imagination as the destination of choice for unbridled fun in tropical settings.
n spite of Foreign Office warnings that 9 British nationals have been murdered in Thailand in the past 3 years, the shooting of Stephen Ashton from South London on New Year’s Eve still grabbed national headlines-many questioning the safety of this supposed idyll. In fact, there have been widespread reports of western tourists have been victims of vicious unprovoked attacks by gangs in Koh Phangan. Visitors are universally warned to “exercise caution when walking in this area at any time, especially after dark.”
Stephen was apparently caught in the crossfire of a fight between two gangs in Koh Phangan, at a party on Haad Rin beach. Koh Phangan neighours Koh Samui, the area popularised in West by Alexander Garland’s bestseller ‘The Beach.’ Backpacking to the beaches of Haad Rin to enjoy the pleasures of full moon parties has become somewhat of a rite of passage for many young people, and even more seasoned travellers. Some beaches are becoming more akin to British resorts than off the beaten track get aways, with a McDonald’s opening in the spot once described as unblemished by modern civilization by Garland.
However, for all Thailand’s reputation for wanton drug use (stoked by many a gap year returning waxing lyrical about their own little Asian odyssey) punishment is draconian- a British pensioner recently received a hefty jail sentence after being found with very small amounts of cannabis intended for recreational use on her person.
With recent news spotlighting the seedy underbelly of this vacation hot spot, it can be easy to forget the relative safety of Thailand. After all, over 800,000 visitors travel to Thailand from the UK every year, and serious incidents are the exception rather than the rule. Physical assaults are actually rarer here than in many other developed nations. It’s very much in the Thai government’s interest to maintain the flow of tourists to the region. According to Governor Suraphon Svetasreni of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, tourism is now recognised as Thailand’s most important service industry, and it has set itself a target of 22.22 million international arrivals to Thailand in 2013.