In 2014, international tourism grew by 4.7%, and strong growth is expected for 2015 as well. In fact, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) anticipates that global tourism will grow by 3-4% in 2015, further aiding in the global economic recovery. 2014 marks the fifth consecutive year with above average industry growth, as the international tourism industry has shown strong resilience following the 2009 economic crisis. In recent years, tourism has been a major contributor to world economic growth, generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs. The question remains, will this growth continue into the foreseeable future?

The European economy has benefited greatly from tourism growth. This past year, Europe attracted over half-a-billion tourists, making it the destination of over half of the world’s international tourists. Both Northern and Southern Europe experienced astonishing growth, with growth rates hovering around 7%. Tourism growth was equally strong in South Asia, Northeast Asia, and North America. Estimated growth rates are expected to fall off slightly for each of these regions, however above average growth is still being forecasted.

A key factor contributing to strong tourism growth is the decrease in oil prices in the second half of 2014, as well as in early 2015. Lower oil prices drive down transport costs and spur economic growth by increasing purchasing power in oil importing economies. Decreased transportation costs make it less expensive for tourists to travel abroad, and enable them to spend more money at their tourist destinations. If oil prices remain low in 2015, it is highly likely that global tourism growth will remain strong.

Be sure to stay tuned to the globalEDGE Blog this week for the rest of our International Tourism Blog Series.  The remaining posts will delve into the impact that currencies and exchange rates have on tourism, the power of tourism in Africa, the benefits and drawbacks of tourism in developing countries, and how international conventions affect international tourism.

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