Introduction to World Tourism

Asian tourism - a subset of world tourism - has steadily progressed to be one of the fastest growing industries in the world according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Tourism destinations have increased worlwide due to the potential and huge revenues derived from tourism products and tourism related commerce.

World tourism has been strongest in emerging and developing nations accounting for forty seven percent contributions to the earnings of these nations (UNWTO n.d.)

Overview of Asian Tourism

Asian tourism is one of the most robust in the world. Data suggests that Asian tourism rebounded faster than any other region following the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Two significant tourism indicators currently in use include international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts. These indicators will be applied in analyzing Asian tourism.

Asia tourism recorded a 13% increase in international tourists arrivals resulting in a 21.7% world tourism market share in 2010 - only second to Europe with 50.7% of world tourism market share.

International receipts also grew by 13% resulting in a whooping US$ 249 billion. All regions in Asia recorded stunning positive growth in international arrivals in 2010.

For example, North-East Asia achieved a 14% increase (with particular growth in Japan and Taiwan with 27% increase both), China recorded a 9% increase as the regions top destination, South-East Asia noted a 12% increase (with spectacular performance from Vietnam – 35%, Singapore – 22% and Cambodia and Philippines – 17% each) , South Asia announced 11% increase (with beat performances from Sri Lanka – 46% and Maldives – 21%) and the Oceania achieved a 6% increase.

Significantly, China is among the top three spenders in international tourism (US$ 55billion in 2010) following the top two spenders (Germany – US$ 78 billion and United States – US$ 76 billion in 2010 respectively).

Therefore, China remains a major driver in Asian tourism
(UNWTO n.d.).

Highlights of Asian Tourism

Asia has many tourism attractions that are world acclaimed. The following are UNESCO approved cultural heritage sites in Asia:

South Asia Countries:

Afghanistan -

1. Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam

2. Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Bangladesh -

1. Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat

2. Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

3. The Sundarbans

Cambodia -

1. Angkor

2. Temple of Preah Vihear

India -

1. Agra Fort

2. Ajanta Caves

3. Ellora Caves

4. Taj Mahal

5. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram,

6. Sun Temple, Konârak

7. Kaziranga National Park

8. Keoladeo National Park

9. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

10. Churches and Convents of Goa

11. Fatehpur Sikri

12. Group of Monuments at Hampi

13. Khajuraho Group of Monuments

14. Elephanta Caves

15. Great Living Chola Temples

16. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal

17. Sundarbans National Park

18. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks

19. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

20. Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

21. Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi

22. Mountain Railways of India

23. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

24. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

25. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

26. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

27. Red Fort Complex

28. The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

Indonesia -

1. Borobudur Temple Compounds

2. Komodo National Park

3. Prambanan Temple Compounds

4. Ujung Kulon National Park

5. Sangiran Early Man Site

6. Lorentz National Park

7. Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra

Lao People's Democratic Republic -

1. Town of Luang Prabang

2. Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the

3. Champasak Cultural Landscape

Malaysia -

1. Gunung Mulu National Park

2. Kinabalu Park

3. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

Nepal -

1. Kathmandu Valley

2. Sagarmatha National Park

3. Chitwan National Park

4. Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

Pakistan -

1. Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro

2. Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City

3. Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol

4. Taxila

5. Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

6. Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta

7. Rohtas Fort

Philippines -

1. Baroque Churches of the Philippines

2. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

3. Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

4. Historic Town of Vigan

5. Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Sri Lanka -

1. Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

2. Ancient City of Sigiriya

3. Sacred City of Anuradhapura

4. Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

5. Sacred City of Kandy

6. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

7. Golden Temple of Dambulla

8. Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

Thailand -

1. Historic City of Ayutthaya

2. Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns

3. Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries

4. Ban Chiang Archaeological Site

5. Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex

Vietnam -

1. Complex of Hué Monuments

2. Ha Long Bay

3. Hoi An Ancient Town

4. My Son Sanctuary

5. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

6. Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi

7. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty

North Asia Countries:

Kazakhstan -

1. Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

2. Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly

3. Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan -

1. Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain

Tajikistan -

1. Proto-urban site of Sarazm

Turkmenistan -

1. State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”

2. Kunya-Urgench

3. Parthian Fortresses of Nisa

Uzbekistan -

1. Itchan Kala

2. Historic Centre of Bukhara

3. Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz

4. Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures

East Asia Countries:

China -

1. Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang

2. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

3. Mogao Caves

4. Mount Taishan

5. Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

6. The Great Wall

7. Mount Huangshan

8. Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area

9. Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

10. Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area

11. Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains

12. Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

13. Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu

14. Lushan National Park

15. Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area

16. Ancient City of Ping Yao

17. Classical Gardens of Suzhou

18. Old Town of Lijiang

19. Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing

20. Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing

21. Dazu Rock Carvings

22. Mount Wuyi

23. Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

24. Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties

25. Longmen Grottoes

26. Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System

27. Yungang Grottoes

28. Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

29. Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

30. Historic Centre of Macao

31. Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains

32. Yin Xu

33. Kaiping Diaolou and Villages

34. South China Karst

35. Fujian Tulou

36. Mount Sanqingshan National Park

37. Mount Wutai

38. China Danxia

39. Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”

40. West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou

Japan -

1. Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area

2. Himeji-jo

3. Shirakami-Sanchi

4. Yakushima

5. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

6. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

7. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

8. Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

9. Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

10. Shrines and Temples of Nikko

11. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

12. Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

13. Shiretoko

14. Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

15. Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land

16. Ogasawara Islands

Korea, Democratic People's Republic of -

1. Complex of Koguryo Tombs

Korea, Republic of -

1. Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks

2. Jongmyo Shrine

3. Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple

4. Changdeokgung Palace Complex

5. Hwaseong Fortress

6. Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites

7. Gyeongju Historic Areas

8. Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes

9. Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

10. Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong

Mongolia -

1. Uvs Nuur Basin

2. Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape

3. Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

West Asia Countries:

Bahrain -

1. Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun

Iran (Islamic Republic of)-

1. Meidan Emam, Esfahan

2. Persepolis

3. Tchogha Zanbil

4. Takht-e Soleyman

5. Bam and its Cultural Landscape

6. Pasargadae

7. Soltaniyeh

8. Bisotun

9. Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

10. Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

11. Sheikh Safi al-din Khanegah and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex

12. The Persian Garden

Iraq -

1. Hatra

2. Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat)

3. Samarra Archaeological City

Israel -

1. Masada

2. Old City of Acre

3. White City of Tel-Aviv -- the Modern Movement Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba

4. Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee

Jordan -

1. Petra

2. Quseir Amra

3. Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a)

4. Wadi Rum Protected Area

Lebanon -

1. Anjar

2. Baalbek

3. Byblos

4. Tyre

5. Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

Oman -

1. Bahla Fort

2. Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn

3. Land of Frankincense

4. Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

Saudi Arabia -

1. Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

2. At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah

Syrian Arab Republic -

1. Ancient City of Damascus

2. Ancient City of Bosra

3. Site of Palmyra

4. Ancient City of Aleppo

5. Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din

6. Ancient Villages of Northern Syria

United Arab Emirates -

1. Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)

Yemen -

1. Old Walled City of Shibam

2. Old City of Sana'a

3. Historic Town of Zabid

4. Socotra Archipelago

Eurasia Countries:

Azerbaijan -

1. Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower,

2. Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape

Russian Federation -

1. Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments

2. Kizhi Pogost

3. Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow

4. Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands

5. Historic Monuments of Novgorod and Surroundings

6. White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal

7. Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad

8. Church of the Ascension, Kolomenskoye

9. Virgin Komi Forests

10 Lake Baikal

11. Volcanoes of Kamchatka

12. Golden Mountains of Altai

13. Western Caucasus

14. Curonian Spit

15. Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery

16. Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin

17. Central Sikhote-Alin

18. Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent

19. Uvs Nuur Basin

20. Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent

21. Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve

22. Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl

23. Struve Geodetic Arc

24. Putorana Plateau

Turkey -

1. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

2. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi

3. Historic Areas of Istanbul

4. Hattusha: the Hittite Capital

5. Nemrut Dag

6. Hierapolis-Pamukkale

7. Xanthos-Letoon

8. City of Safranbolus

9. Archaeological Site of Troy

10. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex

Future projections Asian Tourism

Asian tourism recorded a 12.7% increase between 2008 and 2009 with an estimated annual growth of 6.3%.

Recent studies suggest that an increasing number of US citizens are seeking Asian tourism for ‘relaxation, learning, family/social bonding and self-esteem’ (Choi & Lee 2009, p. 294).

Thus, Asian tourism is projected by 2020 to grow by more than 5% per year compared to the world average of 4.1%. Furthermore, Asian tourism is projected by 2020 to attend a 31% world tourism market share by international arrivals with a 6.6% annual growth rate (UNWTO n.d.).

Asian tourism and implications for students of Hospitality and Tourism management

The Asian continent is poised for more growth in the tourism industry as indicated by the facts gathered. More growth indicates more opportunities for management of government functions and tourism business enterprises.

Consequently, the number of Hospitality and Tourism students in the Asian continent is increasing rapidly.

Research by experts suggest the motivations for these students including greater skills for better positioning in the tourism industry, maximization of job opportunities, ease of studying the course and practical applications of these skills (Kim et al. 2007).

Furthermore, with the positive projections of Asian tourism into the future, it is expected that more skilled individuals will be required to train, manage and provide research services to mange and improve the tourism industry.


This research article investigated Asian tourism now and into the future. Asian tourism was found to be increasing attractive to visitors from all over the world.

This can be attributed to the high number of UNESCO cultural heritage sites in the region, huge investment in the tourism industry by Asian nations, access to tourism information about the region and a favorable business climate for small businesses to thrive in the region.

Find out how our research team can get you a highly customized research...


Choi, H., C & Lee, S (2009), Understanding US traveler behavior to asian countries: a secondary analysis approach, Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research.

Kim, S., S, Guo, Y, Kuo-Ching, W & Agrusa, J (2007), The study motivations and study preferences of student groups from Asian nations majoring in hospitality and tourism management programs, Tourism management.

United Nations World Tourism Organization n.d., Tourism highlights, United Nations World Tourism Organization, 2011 edition.

United Nations World Trade Organization n.d., Why tourism, United Nations World Tourism Organization.

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