Growth in Tourism

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Growth in Tourism

Tourism is the biggest industry in the world. Some estimate that one third of the world's population is employed directly or indirectly through tourism.

To succeed in this section you must be able to explain why tourism has increased, where those increases have been and what the implications are for the environment, economy and culture of developed and developing world countries.

For 1998 France was the top tourist destination who received 70,000,000 visitor nights from overseas. This accounted for 11% of their tourism making the total number of visitor nights spent in France somewhere near 700,000,000!

In descending order the top tourist destinations were:



  • Some countries appear to be in the wrong order. This is due to the fact that the published figures are for foreign visitors, not total number of visitors, yet the rank is worked out using total numbers - yes I know, it's stupid!
  • Figures are the numbers of nights spent. Therefore one person staying for three days and two nights would add two to the total. This means that day-trippers are not actually classified as tourists!

The above table shows that countries with established tourist industries are still the biggest destinations. This is because they have established images, good infrastructures (including airports), good numbers of hotels and large threshold populations.

However, it should not be ignored that the developing world is investing heavily in tourism with Africa's industry growing by about 50% over the last ten years, South Asia's by 63% over the same time and the Middle East by 70%. This is set against a world growth rate of 37%.

So, where as the developing world is not currently in the top ten destinations it is certainly the largest growth area. This growth is set to continue as tourists are always looking for new places to explore.

It is believed that tourist resorts go through cycles. They are discovered and just a handful of people (we'll call them the explorers) know about them. Next, mass tourism arrives and numbers escalate until the resort becomes over-crowded and over-developed: tourism has destroyed the thing it wanted people to see. The area goes into decline.

Meanwhile, the explorers have moved on. Somewhere new and undeveloped, then the same thing happens. It is a continuing cycle.

If this is to be believed (and there is plenty of supporting evidence), then tourism in the developing world is going to become more and more popular as tourism continues to grow and look for new, unspoilt areas to exploit.

There are several reasons why tourism has increased over the past twenty-five years. The examiner will be looking for your ability to explain these. Here is a list of seven that you should learn:

1. More holidays.

All countries in the developing world have increased the number of holidays a person can expect to receive by law. A hundred years ago a person would be lucky to receive one day for a summer holiday - even luckier - to have this as a paid holiday.

Today, as a result of stronger economies, unions and changes in society people can expect to receive a minimum four weeks paid holiday. Inevitably if people have more time then there is a greater chance that they will use some of that time in the tourism industry. There is even more chance that they will go on holiday if they have a higher income.

More holidays

2. A smaller world.

The world is getting smaller!

It now takes just 24 hours to reach countries on the other side of the world. You can now fly to France for £50!

A nationwide motorway network has meant you can drive from one end of the UK to the other in twelve hours. The channel tunnel means that we can be in France in half an hour. Pop to Belgium for the weekend, fly to France for a surf!

Twenty years ago, Cairns (North East Australia) was just a tiny town. Today it is a world famous city. Why? - They built an airport.

The more the transport network develops and the cost of fuel drops (yes drops! Fuel is cheaper today then ever before if you take into account the increase in wages) the greater the chances to go on holiday, the greater the growth in tourism.

3. Development.

Tourists spend money - lots of it! £25 billion in the UK in 1990 and so tourism can be developed by Governments in the developed and developing world to provide employment, earn foreign currency and diversify the economy.

In the UK, most major cities have looked to tourism as a tool of regeneration. In Bristol, &pounds;98 million has been spent regenerating the harbour-side to provide a range of tourist attractions including a new IMAX cinema and hands-on science museum.

In Zimbabwe, Operation Campfire sells hunting licenses to tourists to control animal populations and uses the profits to build schools and hospitals for the rural population. The growth of tourism in the developing world is a very significant part of the world market.

4. Elderly population.

Half of the world is getting wrinkly! Numbers of retired people in the developed world are higher than ever before. They have cash and are living longer than ever before.

Early retirement, pensions and better health care has meant that the pensioner pound is a very important influence in the growth of tourism and, its not all coach trips to Bognor. AJ Hackett (first person to run a commercial bungee jump operation) lets pensioners jump for free!

As entrepreneurs respond to this large and wealthy population, tourism will continue to grow.

Elderly population

5. Society.

Today's society is changing. After the World Wars people realised there was more to life than work and Blackpool. Many of the men had been stationed overseas and came back with experiences of new places, culture and cuisine. The women had to work in traditionally male jobs and society changed forever. Women working increased family income making foreign holidays more affordable.

People now consider a holiday as an essential not the absolute luxury it used to be. Many put this down to the stresses of modern life!

6. Income.

We earn more than ever before. Prices are comparatively cheaper than ever before. Consequently we have a greater disposable income than ever before. Disposable income is the money left after we have purchased essentials that we can spend on what we like including holidays. Add this to the reduction in air-fares and cheaper package holidays and tourism must increase.

7. Communication.

The communications revolution is the next big thing in tourism. Companies like GO and Last are already developing the Internet as a tool for booking holidays. You can take a walk through your hotel online, check out the views, find out about the nightlife - and all this before you book! It's advertised as faster and cheaper than going down to the high street.

To help you learn these try remembering this mnemonic of the capitals: