International tourist numbers to reach 1.8 billion by 2030: UN report

THE number of tourists travelling outside their countries is projected to reach 1.8 billion within two decades, with emerging economies responsible for the highest growth rates, according to a new report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The report, Tourism Towards 2030, confirms that international tourism will continue to grow, forecasting an average of 43 million additional people becoming international tourists every year.

The UNWTO said the growth, which corresponds to a 3.3 per cent annual increase, represents a more moderate growth pace in the industry than in previous years.

"The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector – a more moderate, responsible and inclusive growth," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who presented the report yesterday at the organization's General Assembly in Gyeongju, South Korea.

"This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability," he said.

According to the report, arrivals will pass the one billion mark next year and by 2030 five million people will be crossing international borders every day.

The report also reveals that emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa will have the most to gain from this increase as they are expected to grow at double the pace of advanced markets in North America and Europe.

By 2015, it is expected that emerging economies will receive more international tourists than advanced economies and by 2030 their share is expected to reach 58 per cent.

The report also forecasts that by 2030 North-East Asia will be the most visited region in the world, taking over from Southern and Mediterranean Europe, and that most tourists will come from Asia and the Pacific, followed by European travellers.

"Tourism Towards 2030 shows that there is still significant potential for further expansion in the coming decades," Mr Rifai said.

"Established, as well as new destinations, can benefit from this trend and opportunity, provided they shape the appropriate conditions and policies with regard to business environment, infrastructure, facilitation, marketing and human resources."

However, Mr Rifai said that "alongside this opportunity, challenges will also arise in terms of maximizing tourism's social and economic benefits while minimizing negative impacts," adding that tourism development should be guided by the principles of sustainable development.

Also this week, the Australian Government released the Australian Tourism Labour Force Report by Deloitte Access Economics, providing a comprehensive report on the tourism labour force.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, is part of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy to develop tourism and hospitality labour force profiles for the Australian tourism regions.

Federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, said the report confirms in detail the shortages in labour that have been felt by businesses in all sectors of the tourism industry for some time.

"Nationally we have an estimated 35,800 vacancies in tourism industry jobs and an additional 56,000 people will be needed to fill vacancies by 2015 including 26,000 skilled positions," he said.

Mr Ferguson said the current vacancies are a result of the recruitment and retention difficulties, as well as the skills deficiencies challenging the tourism industry. The industry has an average employee turnover rate of 64 per cent, reaching as high as 118 per cent in the Northern Territory.

"This report highlights ways in which the industry can overcome these labour and skills issues. Some of the suggested solutions include supporting structured career pathways, improved accessibility to training and better integration of Indigenous, mature age and foreign workers," Mr Ferguson said.

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