In the last year, China leapfrogged both Germany and the USA into this pole position, according to the latest stats from the UNWTO Tourism Barometer. Spending was up by 40% on 2011 – with China’s rise in the league table from seventh position in 2005 underlining the country’s rapid economic development over the last seven years.
Relaxed restrictions on foreign travel and more disposable income for many has meant surges of Chinese tourists, helping to prop up what has been a fairly good overall 4% growth year on year in international tourist arrivals.
The other notable countries that rose up the league table in terms of tourism spending were Russia and Brazil.
Now in fifth position, Russia’s spend grew by an impressive 32% year-on-year to US$42.8 billion, while Brazil, just outside the top 10 in position 12, has nevertheless climbed up from 29th placing in 2005. Brazilians spent US$22 billion last year.
“Emerging economies continue to lead growth in tourism demand,” commented UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“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,” he added.
Long-term tourism ties to a country can be built via a study experience in the country
Previous research into decision making for international students by Prospect Research & Marketing in Australia revealed that over one-third of students in one poll had already visited Australia before deciding to study there. Tourism’s role in fostering its own international education sector is undoutable.
And of course, long-term tourism ties to a country can be built via a study experience in the country. Last week, research by an Australian university into Chinese alumni behaviour revealed that 65% had returned to Australia at least once within five years, and 90% intended to visit.