The tourism industry has seen eight years of uninterrupted growth in arrivals. Following a seven per cent increase of international tourist arrivals, 2017’s growth was the highest since 2010, led by the regions of Europe and Africa, which received increases in arrivals of 8% and 9%, respectively.

China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent $258bn on international tourism in 2017. This is almost a fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017, which stood at $1300bn, some $94bn more than in 2016.


France was the world’s most-visited destination in terms of international arrivals, followed by Spain. Japan entered the top 10 in tourism earnings in 10th place after six straight years of double-digit growth.

Spain also shone in terms of inbound greenfield FDI in 2017, receiving the most capital investment in the world, at $2.2bn. Following Spain are the US, China, UAE and Mexico, respectively, according to fDi Markets.

The global growth in arrivals was echoed by a strong increase (5%) in international tourism receipts and exports generated by tourism, which reached $1600bn in 2017, thereby accounting for seven per cent of the world’s exports and making tourism is third-largest export sector.

“These strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years. Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations,” said the UN World Tourism Organization.

Available data for early 2018 has since confirmed international tourism’s continued strong growth, with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April.