Growth of tourism

Tourists are people who travel away from their homes for pleasure. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and it generates a lot of jobs. The money spent by tourists adds to the wealth of countries (economic growth). For many years Europe and the USA have had the most tourism but in recent years there has been a lot of tourism development in Asia and the Middle East.

In 2013, a total of 1.087 billion people travelled to another country as tourists. This has increased from just 25 million in 1950.

Globally, tourism has increased a great deal in the last forty years.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, the top four international destinations in 2010 were:

RankCountryVisitors
1France78.95 million
2United States60.88 million
3China55.98 million
4Spain53 million

Why has tourism increased?

  • People have greater disposable income. This is money left over once they have paid for essentials.
  • People have more paid holidays. In the UK, the number of weeks we have off work has increased from about two weeks in the 1950s to four to six weeks now.
  • Travel has become easier and cheaper. More people have cars and our roads and motorways are better quality, making it easier to travel further in less time. Also, flights are cheaper and the internet makes it easy to plan and book a holiday.
  • People are visiting a wider range of places - partly because they have a better knowledge and understanding of places. As well as learning about different places at school, we watch television programmes and browse the internet. This awareness increases people's expectations.
  • There is a greater variety of holidays to choose from. All-inclusive package holidays have become very popular.
  • People have more leisure time.
  • Many countries have invested money in facilities and infrastructure that make it easier for tourists, such as roads, airports and hotels.
  • Ageing populations - people are able to travel in the free time that they have when they retire.