China overtakes Germany as world's biggest tourism source market
Source: ©The Moodie Report
By Rahul Odedra, Senior Reporter
Expenditure by tourists from China on travel abroad hit US$102 billion last year, more than any other country, according to research by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Growth of +40% over the previous year (US$73 billion in 2011), continuing a trend noted over the past decade, was partly driven by an appreciating Chinese currency.
Rapid urbanisation, rising disposable incomes and relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel have boosted the volume of international trips by Chinese travellers from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012, the agency said.
In 2005 China ranked seventh in international tourism expenditure but has since overtaken Italy, Japan, France and the UK. The strong growth in 2012 finally saw it leapfrog previous number one and two spenders Germany and USA into first place.
Beyond China, UNWTO said other emerging markets as well as most traditional tourism source markets also showed positive results in 2012. The Russian Federation saw an increase of +32% in 2012 to US$43 billion, bringing it from the 7th to 5th place in the ranking of international tourism spending. With an expenditure of US$22 billion last year, Brazil also climbed to 12th place, up from 29th place in 2005.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said: “Emerging economies continue to lead growth in tourism demand.
“The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing middle class from these countries, which will surely continue to change the map of world tourism.”
While the highest growth rates in expenditure abroad came from emerging economies, UNWTO said key traditional source markets, usually growing at a slower pace, also posted positive results.
Spending on travel abroad from Germany and the USA grew by +6% each. Spending from the UK (US$52 billion) grew by +4%, cementing its 4th place in the list of major source markets. Expenditure by Canada grew by +7%, while both Australia and Japan grew by +3%.
France (-6%) and Italy (-1%) were the only markets in the top ten to record a decline in international tourism spending.