UNWTO’s long-term outlook and an assessment of the development of tourism over the two decades from 2010 to 2030 reveals the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide is expected to increase by an average of 3.3% a year.
The growth forecast is due to social, political, economic, environmental and technological factors that have shaped tourism in the past, and which are expected to influence the sector in the future. International tourist arrivals will increase by 43 million annually, compared with an average increase of 28 million a year since 1995.
At the projected rate of growth, global international tourist arrivals are expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2020 and 1.8 billion by the year 2030. Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, and the Middle East will grow at double rate registering over 4.4% growth per year while other developed countries will register a little over 2.2% a year. International tourist arrivals in the emerging economy destinations are expected to exceed those in advanced economies before 2020.
In 2030, 57% of international arrivals will be to developing country destinations significantly improving from 30% in 1980. The 43% arrival rate in advanced economy destinations continue to decline from the staggering 70% since 1980. The strongest growth by region will be seen in Asia and the Pacific, where arrivals are forecast to increase by 331 million to reach 535 million in 2030. The Middle East and Africa are also expected to more than double their number of arrivals in this period, from 61 million to 149 million and from 50 million to 134 million respectively. Europe from 475 million to 744 million and America from 150 million to 248 million will grow comparatively at a slow rate.
Such faster growths are enabling the countries to improve their share at the global market. Asia and the Pacific will increase their global market share to 30% in 2030 while the Middle East to 8%, and Africa to 7%. On the other hand the global economic giants such as Europe will experience a decline in their market of international tourism share to 41% and America to 14% mostly because of the slower growth of the comparatively mature destinations in North America, Northern Europe and Western Europe.
Aspiring to the forecasted success many African governments emphasize on the need for a tourism sector which is both eco-friendly and economically viable to generate sustainable revenue. Although Africa accounts for 15% of the world population, it receives only about 3% of world tourism. To maximize the continent’s untapped tourism potential, heads of states are investing in key infrastructural sectors such as in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.
Countries such as Ethiopia are aware of the potential role of tourism as an economic opportunity and development catalyst, and have drafted strategic plans to develop the sector. However, the extent to which the actual implementation of those plans are taken as national priorities vary significantly from country to country. Seychelles, Tanzania, Gambia, Kenya and South Africa are also putting significant efforts into advancing travel and tourism development.
By Eden Sahle