This week marks the 7th anniversary of this blog. Since my blog began, the tourism industry has changed significantly, with international tourist arrivals up a staggering 41% from 940 million in 2010 to 1.326 billion in 2017.
Overall annual numbers are up 86 million from 2016, contributing US$1,340 billion international tourism receipts.
This is good news. Especially when one reflects on the present-day political mood that appears too often dominated by xenophobia and bigotry.
To quote Mark Twain: ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness’.
Billions of people will have hugely benefitted from these astounding figures, both the travellers themselves and the people living and working in the destinations they visit. The world is on the move, with little sign of a slowdown. Indeed, if I am still blogging in seven years’ time I will be commenting on yet more changes in the diversity of global destinations and travel industry.
Factoring in an equally large upswing in domestic travel I wonder how we, as tour operators, will be arranging our clients’ holidays? I hope it will be with great enthusiasm, on the basis that emerging economic destinations continue to grow faster than advanced economy destinations. Thereby potentially benefiting huge sections of society that would otherwise find it difficult to make a living.
Today the UNWTO estimates that tourism’s contribution to global employment is between 6-7%. More excitingly, in smaller developing destinations tourism accounts for up to 25% of employment.
This is all a far cry from the figures in 1980, when I first started travelling. Then, international tourism arrivals were at 277 million, doubling by 1995, fifteen years later, to 528 million.
The hope is that while the global population continues to travel more and more, the apparent surge in myopic populism politics and right-wing anti-foreigner racism will be overrun by the positive benefits of sharing and understanding other peoples’ cultures, creeds and countries.
Forget building walls, trade-war grandstanding and polarised politics, world tourism and its hefty band of travellers are winning the true battle of hearts and minds. With an estimated 43 million more international tourist arrivals predicted each year, there will be an estimated 1.8 billion international travel trips contributing to a 57% overall market share of emerging economies by 2030.
Stop that if you can.