International tourism receipts exceeded one trillion US dollars for the first time in 2011, reports the World Tourism Organisation.
This compared with $928bn in 2010 and in real terms, adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation, represented a rise of 3.8%, according to the latest United Nations WTO World Tourism Barometer.
An additional $196bn in receipts from passenger transport brought total exports generated by international tourism to $1.2tn last year, or $3.4bn a day on average.
International tourist arrivals, meanwhile, were up 4.6% year-on-year at 982m.
‘These are encouraging results,’ said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai. ‘The past two years have shown healthy demand for international tourism out of many markets, even though economic recovery has been uneven.
‘This is particularly important news for countries facing fiscal pressure and weak domestic consumption, where international tourism, a key export and a labour intensive activity, is increasingly strategic to balancing external deficits and stimulating employment.
‘We trust that governments worldwide will progressively recognise this and engage in measures that support tourism including fairer tax policies and the facilitation of visas and travellers’ movements, as these have proven to stimulate economic growth and job creation.’
On a region-by-region basis, the Americas recorded the biggest increase in receipts last year of 5.7% to $199bn, followed by Europe (+5.2% to $463bn), Asia and the Pacific (+4.3% to $289bn) and Africa (+2.2% to $33bn).
The Middle East was the only region to see a year-on-year decline, of 14% to $46bn.
This meant that Europe held a 45% share of international tourism receipts last year, Asia Pacific 28%, the Americas 19%, the Middle East 4% and Africa 3%.
The international tourism industry, including transport, currently accounts for 30% of the world’s exports of services, ranking fourth after fuels, chemicals and food.