Who are the winners of the global tourism boom?

Sri Lanka is in its sixth straight year of double-digit tourism growth

A global tourism boom fuelled by a billion international travellers has seen some surprising countries emerge as top destinations.

As incomes grow in nations from Ethiopia to China to Sri Lanka, one major beneficiary is global tourism.

Economists call travel a “superior good”, meaning that as people’s incomes grow, they spend a greater proportion of it on travel. 

Source: UN World Tourism Organization. * Provisional figuresMore than one billion people now travel to foreign countries in a typical year. France, Spain and Italy remain global tourism destination champions, in part due to their undeniable charms, but also because they’re easy to get to from other European nations. The US also keeps pulling in visitors.

However, the latest list from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also holds some surprises. One is China, which is not only by far the biggest source of tourists (and tourism spending) but also the fourth most popular destination.

Also popular: Turkey (6th in tourist arrivals) and Russia (10th).

International tourism has grown from 25 million globally in 1950 to 278 million in 1980, 674 million in 2000 and 1.19 billion in 2015, says the UNWTO.

International tourism receipts have surged from US$2 billion in 1950 to US$1.26 trillion in 2015.

Read next: Tourism inspires a new generation of Cuban entrepreneurs


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