In the midst of all the gloom that 2009 was, here’s a sliver of light for the tourism industry. According to the UNTWO, the last quarter of 2009 witnessed some growth in international tourism. As a consequence, the full-year results for 2009 were better than expected. Even more a cause for cheer is the UNWTO’s forecast that international tourist arrivals will grow between 3 and 4 per cent this year
In its World Tourism Barometer for the last quarter of 2009, released a few days ago, the UNWTO pointed out that international tourist arrivals fell by an estimated 4 per cent to 880 million in 2009. What saved the year was a 2 per cent rise in tourist arrivals in the last quarter of 2009, after arrivals shrank by 10, 7 and 2 per cent in the first three quarters. Asia-Pacific and the Middle East led the recovery with growth turning positive in both regions in the second half of 2009.
What’s really interesting is that domestic tourism seemed to add that extra dash of growth in several countries — China, Brazil and Spain for instance. In some of these destinations, domestic tourism not only endured but also grew significantly thanks to “specific government measures aimed at leveraging this trend,” the UNWTO said.
It will be interesting to see what India’s figures for 2009 are. India’s Tourism Ministry, estimates that in 2008, there were 562.92 million domestic visitors to various parts of the country; a rise of 6.9 per cent over 2007. Now compare this with 5.37 million (revised to 5.28 million) international tourist arrivals in the same year; a rise of 8.8 per cent. So in India too, domestic tourism seems to be growing, even if travel for religious purposes possibly accounts for some of this growth. But then, pilgrims are tourists too aren’t they?
Could the growth in domestic tourism witnessed in markets such as Brazil and China be a pointer to a new phase of tourism? A phase in which promoting domestic tourism receives as much attention as promoting international tourism does. Something to think about as travel and tourism event SATTE 2010 begins in New Delhi on Friday.