PH outbound travel spending notches 2nd fastest growth in 2013

By Donnabelle L. Gatdula, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 23 2014 08:52 AM | Updated as of Jan 23 2014 04:52 PM

MANILA - Filipinos have been identified as one of the fastest growing travel spenders among emerging markets in 2013, data from the United Nations World Travel Organization (UNWTO) showed.

In a statement, UNWTO said the Philippines’ outbound expenditure last year grew 18 percent, second highest in the list of top travel spenders following Turkey, which registered a 24 percent growth.

Other emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Qatar (18 percent); Kuwait (15 percent); Indonesia, (15 percent); Ukraine (15 percent); and Brazil (14 percent).

UNWTO noted that international tourist arrivals grew five percent in 2013, reaching a record 1.08 billion arrivals, based on its latest World Tourism Barometer.

UNWTO said growth was realized despite global economic challenges.

“These international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists traveling the world in 2013,” it said.

For 2014, UNWTO forecasts a four to five percent expansion, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific with growth of six percent; Africa, six percent and Europe, five percent.

The leading sub-regions were Southeast Asia, 10 percent; Central and Eastern Europe, seven percent; Southern and Mediterranean Europe, six percent; and North Africa, six percent.

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai.

“The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies,” he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by four percent to 4.5 percent in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of 3.8 percent growth between 2010 and 2020.

The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years.

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth, Rifai said.

For 2014, UNWTO said regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific with expected five to six percent growth and Africa to grow by four to six percent, followed by Europe and the Americas which are both expected to grow by three to four percent.

In the Middle East, it is expected to grow from zero to five percent which prospects are positive yet volatile.

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million.

The five percent growth exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (2.5 percent a year).

UNWTO said this is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012.

By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (seven percent) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (six percent) experienced the best results.