31 Aug 2017

Despite many challenges, 2016 was a successful and robust year for global tourism.  Global outbound tourism grew by approximately 5% due to the rise in Chinese and US outbound tourism.  According to an estimation based on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s declaration for nine months data for 2016, global outbound tourism grew by 4% or 46 million over 2015.  Europe is the most preferred destination for foreign travelers, followed by Africa.  Despite of geo-political factors, Europe grew by 5.2% in 2016, driven by increased footstep.  Asia-Pacific was the largest and fastest-growing market during 2012-2016.  Americas grew quickly compared to other regions in 2016 on the back of airport expansion.

Many countries governments are making policy changes to attract the visitors depending on the largest spenders on luxury into the country and they have relaxed their visa terms to attract more travelers.  This includes the UK Government, which declared that an invitation letter or letter of employment can be used to support a visa application.  The US Government has also extended the validity of its visa to 10 years, while the French have introduced a 48-hour fast-track visa application process.  Due to this Relaxation of visas rules for Asian passengers will increase airport sales in 2017.

The rise in global tourism is critical as travel retail sales were declining due to terror threats and less spending in 2015.  Including this there were many factors affecting this sector such as Safety and security concerns and the temptation to build new barriers to travel, technological revolution and Monitoring a course toward sustainable development.  Increasing traffic at airports and expanding retail services are expected to result in higher sales.  Demand for international tourism remained robust in 2016 despite challenges.  International tourist arrivals grew by 3.9% to reach a total of 1,235 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.  Some 46 million more travelers (overnight visitors) toured internationally last year compared to 2015.

Global airport retail sales recovered in 2016 with growth of 4.0%, having witnessed a 2.8% decline in 2015.  The growth is driven by an uplift in global passenger traffic (up by 6.0%), especially from Asia-Pacific countries.  The region will continue to contribute significantly to passenger traffic, supported by the expansion of low-cost carriers, visa-on-arrivals, increasing purchasing power, and favorable exchange rates.  Chinese tourists buying luxury items away from their home country and growing spend per passenger at airports are factors behind this uplift.  Overall 300 million more people travelled internationally for tourism between 2008 and 2016.

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