WTO figures for 2010: who’s up, who’s down?

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1 Jun 2011

WTO figures for 2010: who’s up, who’s down?

I touched on these figures a couple of blogs ago, if anyone is counting, when talking about Spain’s strategy for regaining its No2 slot in world rankings for International Tourist arrivals. The Tourism Alliance, of which RDO is a member, sent us recently the latest figures for 2010 and France remains the world’s No 1 International Arrivals Destination, with 76.8 million arrivals in 2010, well ahead of its closest rival, the USA at 59.7million.

The USA moved up to the No.2 slot in 2008, when it pushed Spain down to No.3. As I mentioned on the last occasion, China (who else) is the rising competitor, moving from 5th in 2003 to 3rd in 2010 with 55.7million.Not a bad achievement over 7 years and it doesn’t appear that the 2008 Olympics made a huge difference to China’s rankings that year, when it was still in 4th place – is there a lesson here for the UK in 2012?

What about the UK I hear many of you ask? Disappointingly the UK has not changed its ranking since 2002, it is still at No.6 for arrivals at 28.1 million. In terms of International Tourism receipts however it has dropped in ranking from No 6 in 2007 to No.7 in 2008 with receipts in 2010 at 30.4bn US $ compared with the USA’s huge 103bn US$ and Spain’s 52.5bn US$ (which puts it at No2 for receipts). Again in terms of receipts, China is now at No.4 pushing Italy down into 5th place with 45.8bn and 38.8bn respectively.

The complete set of figures will be put up on the RDO website shortly, but a number of other interesting facts can be noted. Turkey, unplaced in 2006 in terms of arrivals moved from No9 in 2007 to No 7 in 2010 at 27 million arrivals. Malaysia, unplaced until 2008, is now at No.9 in terms of arrivals. Interestingly, both China and Hong Kong feature separately in terms of receipts from tourism with the latter at No.9, with receipts of 23bnUS$ so that total Chinese receipts in 2010 were some 69bn US$ which would put the whole of China at No.2 in terms of receipts.

Finally whilst Germany remains the No.1 country for outbound tourism at 77.7million in 2010, UK’s figures have remained constant at about 48.6 million outbound, but it has been pushed down from No.3 to No.4 by, yes you’ve guessed it – China, which jumped from 43.7 million in 2009 to 54.9 million in 2010!

I am left wondering two things.

First, what view does the UK Government take of that 30bn US$ annual receipts from tourism and does it really want to do anything to either retain the UK’s current ranking or to improve annual income from this source? Having heard recently of the difficulties one of our members has had in setting up a new project in London that would have brought tourists, employment and revenue into the Capital in time for the Olympics next year, I do have my doubts!

Secondly, how do the French manage so consistently to maintain that No.1 ranking, when doing business in France is so difficult as many of our members have discovered?!

To obtain a copy of the WTO figures, contact Sue McNicol at the secretariat on


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