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Europe’s Days as the Leader of Global Tourism are Numbered

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Top Ten Fastest Growing Tourism Earners Reflect Shifts towards Asia, Africa and Non-Traditional Europe

Image: Samantha Shankman /

Last year, Europe welcomed more than half of all international tourist arrivals – 535 million foreign visitors – according to (data reported from the United Nations World Tourism Organization). The region also snagged the largest global portion of tourism receipts, an estimated income of $1075 billion. Despite this, Asia and the Pacific are beginning to close in and overtake the traditional tourism giant:

Year-over-year change in tourism receipts signals this global shift away from Europe and towards Asia. Europe’s tourism receipts increased just 2 percent between 2011 and 2012, the smallest incline after the Middle East’s 2 percent drop, while Asia’s earnings grew 6 percent.

Although individual European countries still make up half of the Top Ten biggest tourism earners in 2012, their growth rate mirrors this trend and is cited as much slower than their Asian counterparts.

The chart provided on the ten fastest growing nations (in terms of tourism dollars earned) is worth a look. Six of the nations are from Asia / Pacific (and some of Japan’s growth can likely be attributed from continued recovery from the tsunami) and two from Africa. Of the two from Europe – Sweden and Finland – neither are part of the traditional top earners in the region (Spain, France, Germany, U.K.).

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