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Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

TravelMole guest comment: Euromonitor identifies winners and losers in tourism growth


The first six months of 2011 saw another strong performance for tourism flows worldwide after the strong growth recorded in 2010. The UNWTO reported a growth of 4.5% for tourist arrivals worldwide in the first half of the year, with final year figures expected to set a new record for international arrivals after the 955 million arrivals registered in 2010, according to Euromonitor International.


Euromonitor International’s interim research findings for its Travel and Tourism 2012 edition point to a gloomier state of the economy in Western Europe, North America and Japan, which is expected to have a negative impact on consumer confidence and on departures from these areas in the second half of 2011 and in 2012. Angelo Rossini, Travel and Tourism Analyst at Euromonitor International, investigates.


Asia Pacific driver of growth


The strong performance of tourist arrivals in the first half of the year was mainly driven by a further reprise of the world economy after the recession of 2009. Regions that especially drove growth were South and South East Asia, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe.


South and South East Asia are benefiting from their continued strong economic growth, driving world economic growth and also tourism, thanks to China, India and Indonesia. Chinese outgoing tourist expenditure grew by 14% in 2010 and is expected to grow by 13% in the first six months of 2011, according to Euromonitor International, mainly benefiting regional destinations including Hong Kong, Macao, Japan and South Korea.



Positive performance for South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe


Tourism growth in South America is driven by the strong economic performances of most countries in the region including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia and by the strong promotion by the Brazilian tourism board linked to the important sports events which will take place in the country – the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.


Sub-Saharan Africa benefits from the strong growth of arrivals to Kenya and South Africa while on the other hand North Africa recorded the sharpest decline in tourist arrivals in H1 2011 due to the political turmoil in the region.


A decline of trips to Egypt and Tunisia was behind the strong growth recorded by Southern European destinations over H1 2011. In particular Spain, Greece, Turkey and Portugal benefited from the weak performance of inbound tourism to their Northern African competitors. Arrivals to Eastern European countries also recorded a healthy growth driven by the good economic performance of Russia, Poland and Ukraine.




Prospects are less rosy


However, after the good results of H1 2011, prospects for tourist arrivals for the end of 2011 and for 2012 are less optimistic especially as far as the advanced economies are concerned.


As a result of sovereign debt imbalances and the volatility in the financial markets, economic growth is expected to slow down in advanced economies in H2 2011 and 2012. The Economist recently revised downwards its economic outlook for the US to 1.7% and for the Eurozone to 1.6% in 2011, while the outlook for 2012 was revised to 2% and 1% respectively. Emerging economies are expected to continue to grow strongly, by 6.6% in 2011 and by 6.4% in 2012 according to the IMF.  The economic situation will lead to polarisation in tourism growth between emerging economies where tourism flows will continue to grow healthily, while advanced economies are expected to see stagnation in tourist activity.

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