Worldwide tourism numbers grew 6% last year

Worldwide tourism numbers grew by more than 6% last year to 790 million over-night trips, outstripping the industry’s long-term growth rate by almost 50%.

However, German tourism consultancy IPK forecast growth this year will slow to half this rate, giving the industry its most difficult year since 2001.

Total turnover from outbound tourism rose 7% to Euro753 billion, IPK revealed. Average spending rose to Euro 117 per night and Euro 1,150 per trip.

IPK president Rolf Freitag said: “Tourism had a fantastic 2007. Emerging markets were the global driver – led by Korea, China, India, Brazil, central and eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal and Greece.”

Outbound travel across Europe rose 5% to 477 million trips – 60% of the world total. The increase was double Europe’s average economic growth rate of 2.5%. Inbound tourism grew at the same rate, as did spending. But growth was unevenly spread.

Most of the increase came outside the major markets – the UK and Germany, which both recorded 2% growth in outbound tourism. France saw 4% growth, Italy 6%, Spain 15% and Russia 16%. Total spending in Europe hit Euro 381 billion, averaging Euro 938 per trip – a 2% year-on-year rise that lagged inflation a little.

IPK reported a 7% Europe-wide increase in long-haul journeys, but noted 87% of those making foreign trips never left Europe.

The German and UK markets continue to dwarf the rest of the continent. Almost 76 million travelled from Germany and 63.5 million from the UK, compared with 31 million from France and 22 million from Italy.

The US enjoyed a 13% increase in visitors thanks to the weakness of the dollar. But the Caribbean experienced a 2% fall. North Africa saw a 13% increase – Egypt enjoying 21% growth, Morocco 13% and Tunisia 4%.

The Asia-Pacific region experienced 10% growth – varying between 12% to China and 7% to India and Australia. Only Japan saw a decline – of 3% year on year.

IPK bases its annual survey on responses from 500,000 travellers. It forecast growth of 3% to 4% for 2008 compared with 6.4% last year, against average long-term growth in the industry of 4.3%.

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