Exports from international tourism hit US$1.7 trillion in 2018

MADRID — A new report from UNWTO has confirmed solid demand for international travel in a generally robust economic environment.

Exports generated by international tourism reached US$1.7 trillion in 2018, a 4% increase in real terms over the previous year. And for the seventh straight year, tourism exports grew faster than merchandise exports (+3%).

Strong growth in outbound travel from many source markets fuelled revenues from international tourism to reach the $1.7 trillion figure. This accounts for 29% of global service exports and 7% of overall exports of goods and services.

As these figures show, international tourism is among the top five economic sectors in the world, behind chemical manufacturing and the fuel industry, but ahead of the food and automotive industries.

“Rather than growing in volume we need to grow in value. We are pleased to see that both emerging and advanced economies around the world are benefitting from rising tourism income,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. “Revenues from international tourism translate into jobs, entrepreneurship and a better situation for people and local economies, while reducing trade deficits in many countries.”

Total exports from international tourism include $1.448 billion in international tourism receipts (visitor spending in destinations) and $256 billion in international passenger transport services.

By regions, Asia and the Pacific led the way with 7% growth in international tourism receipts, followed by Europe with a 5% increase. The Middle East saw 3% growth, while Africa (+1%) and the Americas (0%) recorded more modest results. Central and Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia (both +0%) were the subregions with the strongest growth.