Global tourism has risen dramatically since the end of the second World War. In 1950, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), there were just 25 million international tourist arrivals. By 2019, the same body reported that there were 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals – an increase of 4% on the previous year – with the same increase forecast for 2020.
Of course, though, with subsequent developments with the outbreak of the coronavirus, that prediction already seems unlikely. I have already read many accounts of people cancelling trips and, at this point in time, it’s hard to envisage that major events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are going to get quite the same number of international visitors as they would have achieved without the current health scare. It is still 150 days away, so a lot could change, but the likelihood is that the current outbreak will get worse before it gets better.
In recent years, luxury tourism has thrived also, outpacing general tourism. According to figures released by Statista, the global luxury tourism market generated $831 billion in 2019. By 2026 it is expected to be worth $1.6 billion according to a new report published by Allied Market Research. Whilst the compound annual growth rate of tourism is generally around 6.4%, the luxury segment is higher at 7.3%.
With seventy years of steady growth, it begs the question “when will we reach peak global tourism?”. Is this trend set to continue for the foreseeable future, but perhaps with occasional blips along the way, or is it the case that in an age of flight shame, overtourism, climate change and the threat of global pandemics such as the coronovirus, that global tourism has perhaps finally reached its peak?
Or is it the case that, with a seemingly ever-rising population, an increase in the mobility of middle classes, particularly in countries like China and India, the affordability of travel and the impact of social media reinforcing people’s desire to travel, that we can expect the global tourism explosion to simply continue unabated?
We welcome your comments on what you think the future holds for both the global tourism industry and, more specifically, luxury tourism globally.