With people finally returning to North Africa and increasing destination trips to Eastern Europe, international tourism worldwide grew four percent in the first half of the year. Over 705 million tourists traveled abroad in this period, and if accomplished it will be the first time that over one billion people have traveled internationally. Areas such as Central and Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and Central America had the highest growth in tourism. Egypt had a large increase after the social problems were solved, and Japan also did after the nuclear contamination concerns were solved. Interestingly enough, countries such as Sweden, South Africa, and South Korea had increases on a smaller scale, but saw the income from tourism increase by over twenty-five percent.
The United States also has had incredible increases in tourism in 2012, and is on pace to set its own record. The speeding up of the visa process by the Obama administration has allowed this to occur, and also the long-term drop of the dollars value has lured foreign travelers to visit. Tourists have more spending power when a countries currency is competitive, and this is obviously an appeal for any traveler. The UNWTO is urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation to further increase the convenient and appealing aspect of international travel, leading to better progress in an already increasing market.
It has also been clear that the emerging economies have gained the lead in tourism compared to advanced economies. China had the best tourist market in both earnings and expenditure. It is a good sign for the economy that tourism is increasing at such as fast rate, and in countries where it could use the income from a sometimes tough industry. It is still clear that places like the Middle East where there is a lot of hostility cannot seem to build in the tourism industry, and Egypt was a great example of how once the hostility is cleared up, the tourism industry can rebound incredibly.
The tourism industry in general is an interesting industry. Countries certainly can have an advantage if they have beautiful beaches, tall mountains, or popular attractions, but it is all about the convenience and hospitality when it comes down to how successful these industries are. Places like the United States and China have incredible service and transportation methods which are a great appeal when traveling abroad, and this contributes greatly to their success. In poorer countries, the scarcity of airports and trains are unappealing to tourists, which slows down the growth in this industry. Its importance can be underestimated though, as when tourists come pouring in, all industries rise with it. What are some ways that a country can help increase its appeal to tourists?