Why tourism matters

Approx read: 2 mins


If it’s called Tourist Season, why can’t we hunt them?

As a former Bourbon Street bartender I can tell you. Because, honey, they spend a ton of money.

But don’t take my word for it. The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) can show you in pretty pictures.

According to the UNWTO: ‘As a worldwide export category, tourism ranks third after fuels and chemicals and ahead of food and automotive products.’

So, how many tourists are we talking about? The UNWTO reported 1.2 billion international tourist arrivals in 2015. By 2030, the numbers could reach 1.8 billion tourists travelling annually. What’s 1.8 billion? Imagine the entire populations of China, the United States and Afghanistan combined going on a road trip trip, once a year.

Where’s everybody going?

The West hit the tourist trifecta in 2015. France topped the list last year, with 84.5 million international tourist arrivals. The US came a distant second, visitors totaling 77 million and change. Spain took show, at 58 million. China finally hit the board at 4th. But the biggest statistical surprise was Turkey. Despite a terrible year of terror attacks and turmoil, Turkey placed 6th, the hummus between two slices of Europe: Italy and Germany.



Travel Fat Cats

The folks who spend the most may surprise you. China, yeah, sure, that’s a no-brainer. And the UK capitalized on a strong pound last year. But France? Our Gallic friends aren’t cheap. French tourists spent an average of USD598 per capita on travel, as opposed to the more numerous- and parsimonious- Chinese, at USD213. Bonjour, big spender! Rounding out 2015’s top ten list were Russia, Canada, South Korea, Italy and Australia.



What does it all mean? Being good at being yourself can be great for your wallet. As emerging markets continue to do their thing, the new middle class, pockets ablaze, have money to travel. This provides new opportunities for increasing GDP in countries without a wealth of natural resources. A healthy tourism industry can help keep the government stable, because if the place isn’t safe, we’re not gonna go there. (Got that, Egypt?) So, economy-builders and travellers, go out and shamelessly promote yourself! And the next time a tourist asks you a stupid question, be nice: it’s your economic duty.

Sarah is a blogger, writer and amateur palaeontologist from New Orleans. When not writing or digging dinosaurs, she teaches English.