The World Tourism Organization recently released its annual international tourism numbers, and—even with the economic hurdles affecting parts of the world—the results exceeded expectations. Overall, an additional 52 million people traveled internationally in 2013, a 5% increase from the previous year. Here’s how the numbers break down:
In relative terms, Asia and the Pacific is the fastest-growing region for the third year in a row. It saw the strongest growth (+6%), with an additional 14 million visitors over last year—bringing the total to 248 million. Southeast Asia was the best-performing sub-region, with a 10% increase over 2013. Africa experienced an increase of 6%, reaching a new record of 56 million tourists (three million more than last year).
Europe was the leader in absolute growth, with 563 million international tourists in 2013—up 29 million from 2013 (+5%). Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Mediterranean Europe increased by 7% and 6%, respectively.
While the Americas overall increased by 4%, its sub-regions did not perform as strongly as other parts of the world. South America received 2% more visitors, while the Caribbean clocked in at +1%—a slowdown as compared to 2012 figures (+4%). Predictably, the Middle East did not see any growth.
Who is Traveling?
It’s not surprising that China leads the pack in largest outbound market and expenditure for the second year in a row. In 2012, China spent a record $102 billion. In the first three quarters of 2013, expenditure increased by 28%, while Russia reported 26% growth. A few outbound expenditure increases to note: Turkey (+24%), the Philippines (+18), and Brazil (+14). And a few countries actually saw declines: Japan, Italy, and Germany—which, it’s interesting to note, were all in the top 10 in 2012.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.