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Emerging nations buoy tourism spend in 2011Pudong, Shanghai

Visitors from the BRIC countries are driving spending in the world’s top tourist destinations, tourism figures show.

Statistics from the UN World Tourism Organisation confirm that China recorded the most significant growth among spenders, with a 38% increase year-on-year in 2011.

India and Brazil were next with a 32% increase, followed by Russia with a 21% rise. These increases eclipsed growth in spend by US travellers, at 5% and Germany’s, at 4%.

The UNWTO figures show that some of this spend came the way of the UK, where receipts were up 7%, but that this was behind the US at 12% and far behind Hong Kong’s at 25%.

The organisation said international tourist arrivals would reach the one billion mark in 2012.

Numbers grew 4.4% last year to 980m and although the UNWTO predicts a slowing of growth this year, it still maintains the milestone will be reached.

Among regions, Europe (+6%) was the best performer in 2011, while by sub-region South-America (+10%) topped the ranking.

Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (+5%) than in emerging ones (+3.8%), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa.

Africa maintained international arrivals at 50m, as the gain of 2m by Sub-Saharan destinations (+7%) was offset by the losses in North Africa (-12%).

The Middle East (-8%) lost an estimated 5m international tourist arrivals, totalling 55m. However, destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates sustained steady growth.
The UNWTO urged governments to make obtaining visas easier.

Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said: ‘Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be key in boosting demand.

‘This area is of particular relevance in a moment in which governments are looking to stimulate economic growth but cannot make major use of fiscal incentives or public investment.’

To see the UNWTO report on 2011 and outlook for 2012, click here.


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