Concentration and dispersal of tourism is a key challenge. Uneven growth in tourism can be observed globally, nationally and even at the destination level, where iconic places might suffer from ‘overtourism’. The indicators shown here whether global tourism concentrates towards fewer dominating source markets (Top 10 Outbound) and recipient destinations (Top 10 Inbound), or whether it diversifies to include a wider range of countries. In addition, and to assess the aspect of equality in travel, an indicator has been created to show the share of outbound tourism from Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Data are from the WTTC.
Top 10 Countries for Outbound Travel
Top 10 Countries for Inbound Travel
Outbound Spending by countries from the LDC and SIDS groups
About half of global international tourism occurs between 10 countries.
Goal 10 of the SDGs seeks to reduce inequality amongst countries, and participation in travel and tourism could be one vehicle to progressing this goal.
Tourism is relatively concentrated in time and space, and this trend is becoming more evident with the fast increase in Chinese tourism activity. Better dispersion of tourism is likely to be more sustainable because the economic benefits are more spread out and because capacity constraints in popular destinations are mitigated. A report on ‘overtourism‘ has recently been published by McKinsey and the WTTC. Greater participation in tourism reflects progress in equality in that people from a greater range of countries are participating in global travel.
The selected indicators track whether global tourism concentrates towards fewer dominating source markets and recipient destinations, or whether it diversifies over time. Data also show whether visitors from developing countries are increasingly participating in global tourism.
- The share of the Top 10 outbound countries of total global tourism expenditure in 2017 was 57%, one percent more than in 2016. Thus, well over half of international tourism export activity is due to the outbound travel from 10 countries.
- The long-term pattern indicates that the concentration of outbound expenditure amongst the Top 10 has declined between 2000 and 2010 to reach a low point of about 52%. It has since increased due to the growing dominance of Chinese tourism expenditure, and appears steady in the moment. Indeed, expenditure data show that Chinese travellers’ spending has decreased somewhat between 2017 and 2016 (to 19% of expenditure, down from 21%).
- In terms of tourism receiving countries, the Top 10 destinations accumulated 52% of global tourism expenditure in 2017; indicating increasing concentration of benefits. In other words, over half of the economic impact occurs in 10 countries.
- The analysis of the WTTC data demonstrates the heavy concentration of benefit received by the top three countries, namely the USA, China and Spain.
- In 2016, Macao was no longer in the top 10 of inbound countries, but in 2017 it came back into the Top 10 Inbound list on rank 10, outperforming Japan.
- The share of international outbound tourism coming from LDC and SIDS countries is very small, and measured only 1.3% in 2017, slightly up from 1.2% in 2016.