World tourism has grown to be a power house for economic growth in the world. According to United Nations Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2010 analysis, tourism as an export category ranks after fuels, chemical and automotive products.

Moreover, it has progressed to be the main foreign exchange revenue earner for many countries especially in emerging economies, contributed an estimated 5% to the worldwide gross domestic product, contributed to worldwide employments estimated at 6-7% with potential for higher figures when narrowed down to specific islands whose economic mainstay is tourism (UMWTO n.d).


Historically, tourism worlwide has always been expanding. Two popular indicators of tourism include international tourism arrivals (ITA) and international tourism receipts (ITR).

Consider the growth in international tourist arrivals (ITA) as indicated by UNWTO: 25 million in 1950 to 277 million in 1980 to 435 million in 1990 to 675 million in 2000 and currently (2010) to 940 million representing a 6% increase over 2009.

Moreover, ITA has increased more in emerging nations measured at 31% in 1990 to 47% in 2010 accounting for the huge success in worldwide tourism according to the same source.

Furthermore, international tourism receipts (ITR) increased to an estimated 4.7% in 2010 representing US$ 919 billion earnings worldwide.

Tourism worldwide as with other sectors of the economy can be affected by negative events. The economic crisis of late 2008 and 2009 is such an example, however world tourism recovered with stunning performance (UNWTO n.d.).

Highlights of World Tourism

Various regions recorded outstanding positive results in international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts in 2010 according to the UNWTO reports.

Overall, Europe recorded a 3% growth, Africa measured a 7% growth, Americas noted a 6% growth, and Asia and the Pacific achieved a 13% growth while the Middle East outperformed other regions with a 14% growth.

Source markets include Europe that represents over half of world international tourism arrivals, the Americas (16%), and Asia and Pacific (21%).

Furthermore, world international tourism expenditures in 2010 peaked at US$ 919 billion with the highest spender - Germany (US$ 77.7 billion) - and the least spender - Australia (US$ 22.5 billion).

Main attractions include United Nations world cultural heritage sites in various countries and regions.

These sites hold universal values and attract thousands of international tourists. You can learn about the current list of UNESCO world heritage sites from the UNESCO website .

Future of Worldwide Tourism

Tourism worlwide is a resilient industry and will continue to strengthen into the foreseeable future. UNWTO has forecasted an increase in international tourist arrivals for 2011 estimated at 4% to 5%.

Furthermore, international arrivals are projected to reach 1.6 billion by year 2020. Asia and Africa is projected to grow at over 5% per year while the Americas and Europe is projected to record below-average performance.

Notwithstanding, Europe is expected to welcome most of the world’s tourist by 2020 (717 million), East Asia (397 million), Americas (282 million) followed by Africa, Middle and south Asia (UNWTO n.d.).

Implications for students of Hospitality and Tourism management

Tourism worlwide is a large industry. As tourism increases, tourists will need to be transported, fed, housed, shown around, managed and supported by individuals and businesses.

Moreso, as world population is expected to increase, so is the increase in tourism.

Consequently, students of Hospitality and Tourism management especially in emerging economies will need to develop skills to manage either individually or through business functions and adequately satisfy tourists in any function – Hotel management, Tourist guide management activities, and Tourist information management and Translation services.

Governments are increasing expenditure in tourism promotions, maintaining tourist centers and tourist sites to increase foreign earnings.

Students of Hospitality and tourism management will be expected to provide training, expert advice to government plans and support future research in tourism issues.

Therefore, the responsibilities of Hospitality and tourism students will be enormous going into the future and consequently requires sufficient preparation today.


This article investigated tourism worldwide, its activities in the past, present and future.

Moreover, various reasons responsible for increasing tourism worldwide such as huge expenditure by governments, increasing development of tourism destinations and world cultural heritage sites were discussed.

The challenges for students of Hospitality and tourism management in government, business and individual functions were also discussed.

Tourism worldwide is projected to increase rapidly in the future and skilled personnel will be required to manage this ever increasing industry.


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center (2011), World heritage list, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Center.

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

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

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