Mapping the Tourism Industry Around the World

Despite signs of a global economic slowdown, it seems that there is no stop on tourism growth. For many individuals, traveling is an ideal way to experience new cultures, meet new people, and broaden horizons. At the same time, tourism is a major component of the economy for many countries. Our new visualization takes a look at which countries reap the greatest benefits from tourist spending.

Tourism Industry

  • In 2018, the global tourism industry was worth $1.7 trillion.
  • Revenues generated from tourists have grown faster than the world economy.
  • The Asia-Pacific region saw the greatest growth in tourist spending, with a 7% increase year-over-year.
  • At $570 billion, Europe is the region with the most tourist spending in 2018.

The visualization and trends are based on a report released by the UN World Tourism Organization. The map above shows the biggest international tourism receipts (tourist spending) in 2018. Each country is proportional to the value of its tourism receipts. Countries that attract more tourism receipts (such as the U.S. and Spain) appear larger, while countries that have fewer tourism receipts (such as El Salvador) appear smaller. We also color-coded the countries by region, as shown in the map legend. All monetary values are expressed in USD.

Top 10 Tourist Destinations by Money Spent

1. United States - $214 billion
2. Spain - $74 billion
3. France - $67 billion
4. Thailand - $63 billion
5. United Kingdom - $52 billion
6. Italy - $49 billion
7. Australia - $45 billion
8. Germany - $43 billion
9. Japan - $41 billion
10. China - $40 billion

Popular tourist destinations are subject to changes due to a variety of factors. Notably, media trends have surged to shape the new attractive destinations for tourists. For example, the UK city of Birmingham has seen a dramatic increase in tourism due to the popularity of the British drama “Peaky Blinders,” which takes place in the Midlands city. In addition, the political situation within a city can play a major role on its tourist performance, as shown by the negative effects that political protests have had on Hong Kong’s tourism industry. While developed countries in the West tend to have the highest tourist spending, developing countries like India are also gaining a larger share of tourism dollars. It is yet to be seen how fast-developing countries will reshape the tourist landscape in the future.

Finally, not everybody is happily welcoming tourists in their home city and concerns about overtourism abound. Being a courteous traveler and respecting the local culture will go a long way toward providing not only economic benefits to different countries, but also fostering international goodwill.

What country is next on your travel list? Please let us know in the comments.

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