China continues to lead international outbound tourism, as international tourism expenditure from that country grew by $11 billion to $ 261 billion, an increase of 12 per cent, as reported in the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
The number of outbound travellers rose 6 per cent to 135 million in 2016. This growth consolidates China’s position as number one source market in the world since 2012, following a trend of double-digit growth in tourism expenditure every year since 2004.
The US, Germany, UK and France closed the list as the top five spenders on outbound trips.
“The latest data on outbound tourism spending is very encouraging. Despite the many challenges of recent years, results of spending on travel abroad are consistent with the 4 per cent growth to 1.2 billion international tourist arrivals reported earlier this year for 2016. People continue to have a strong appetite for travel and this benefits many countries all around the world, translating into economic growth, job creation and opportunities for development” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
The growth in outbound travel from China benefited many destinations in Asia and the Pacific, most notably Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, but also long-haul destinations such as the United States and several in Europe.
Aside from China, three other Asian outbound markets among the first 10 showed very positive results. The Republic of Korea ($27 billion) and Australia ($27 billion) both spent 8 per cent more in 2016 and Hong Kong (China) entered the top 10 following 5 per cent growth in expenditure ($24 billion).
Second largest market the United States maintains strength
Tourism spending from the US, the world’s second largest source market, increased 8 per cent in 2016 to $122 billion, up $9 billion on 2015. For a third year in a row, strong outbound demand was fuelled by a robust US dollar and economy. The number of US residents travelling to international destinations increased 8 per cent through November 2016 (74 million in 2015).
By contrast, Canada, the second source market from the Americas in the top 10, reported flat results, with $29 billion spent on international tourism, while the number of outbound overnight trips declined by 3 per cent to 31 million.
Germany, the UK, France and Italy lead tourism spending in Europe
Germany, UK, France and Italy are the four European markets in the top 10 and all reported growth in outbound demand last year. Germany, the world’s third largest market, reported 5 per cent growth in international tourism spending last year, rebounding from weaker figures in 2015, reaching $81 billion.
Demand from the UK, the world’s fourth largest source market, remained sound despite the significant depreciation of the British pound in 2016. UK residents' visits abroad were up by 5 million (up 7 per cent) in 2016 to 70 million, with expenditure close to $64 billion.
France, the world’s fifth largest market, reported 7 per cent growth in tourism expenditure in 2016 to reach $41 billion. Italy recorded 1 per cent growth in spending to $25 billion and a 3 per cent increase in overnight trips to 29 million.
Many more source markets report growing outbound expenditure
Among the largest 50 source markets, there were another nine that recorded double-digit growth in spending in 2016: Vietnam (up 28 per cent), Argentina (up 26 per cent), Egypt (19 per cent), Spain (up 17 per cent), India (up 16 per cent), Israel and Ukraine (both up 12 per cent), Qatar and Thailand (both up 11 per cent).
By contrast, outbound tourism from some commodity exporters continued to be depressed as a consequence of their weaker economy and currencies. Expenditure from the Russian Federation declined further in 2016 to $24 billion. International tourism spending from Brazil also decreased in 2016.