The Rapid Growth In Tourism

Fifty years ago, international tourism was relatively uncommon and highly concentrated in a handful of industrialized countries. In 1950, there were an estimated 25 million international arrivals, and roughly a dozen destination countries accounted for more than 95% of total international tourism (Handszuh and Waters, 1997). By 1970, there were in excess of 150 million arrivals per year, with the increase largely due to the arrival of jet travel. By 1993 there were an estimated 500 million international arrivals, and it is estimated that 660 million international arrivals will have occurred by the end of 2000 (Figure 1.1). Even conservative estimates suggest that there may be nearly one billion international tourist arrivals by the year 2010 (WTO, 2000). The expansion of tourism has exceeded 7% per year for the past four decades, and continues, in many parts of the world, to be the fastest growing segment of the economy.

The rapid rise in international tourism has many causes:

• Improvement in world economies, especially in developing countries.

• Relative decrease in the cost of transportation.

• Development of tourist economies and infrastructure, and expansion to developing countries.

• Increase in leisure time and disposable income, particularly in an aging population in developing countries.

• Economic globalization, with more international business travel.

• Increasing trend of students studying and visiting abroad.

• Increased wealth and mobility of immigrants returning to their native countries to visit.

• Local improvements in political stability in some parts of the world.

• Heightened awareness and interest in foreign culture and ecologies.

• Improved marketing of travel, including the Internet.

Figure 1.1 International tourist arrivals (millions). (Modified from WTO, 2000) Figure 1.2 International tourist arrivals: market share. (Modi fied from WTO, 2000)

Figure 1.1 International tourist arrivals (millions). (Modified from WTO, 2000) Figure 1.2 International tourist arrivals: market share. (Modi fied from WTO, 2000)

• Increases in publication (books and magazines) about travel and adventure.

Although there has been a steady rise in tourism for the past several decades, both global and local influences may also serve to reduce tourist arrivals in some years and regions. Rising fuel/transportation costs, political instability, and conflicts are obvious causes of focal declines in tourism (e.g. falling tourism recently in the former Yugoslavia and Mexico).

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Figure 1.3 Tourist arrivals (thousands): 10 year growth rate (%) and total arrivals in selected regions. (From WTO, 2000)

Figure 1.3 Tourist arrivals (thousands): 10 year growth rate (%) and total arrivals in selected regions. (From WTO, 2000)

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