Concentration and dispersal of tourism is a key challenge. Uneven growth in tourism can be observed globally, nationally and even at the destination level, where iconic places might suffer from ‘overtourism’. The indicators shown here whether global tourism concentrates towards fewer dominating source markets (Top 10 Outbound) and recipient destinations (Top 10 Inbound), or whether it diversifies to include a wider range of countries. In addition, and to assess the aspect of equality in travel, an indicator has been created to show the share of outbound tourism from Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Data are from the WTTC.

About half of global international tourism occurs between 10 countries

Tourism is relatively concentrated in time and space. There is growing recognition that better dispersion of tourism is more sustainable because the economic benefits are more spread out and because capacity constraints in popular destinations are mitigated. Also, greater participation in tourism reflects progress in equality in that people from a greater range of countries are participating in global travel.

Goal 10 of the SDGs seeks to reduce inequality amongst countries, and participation in travel and tourism could be one vehicle to progressing this goal.

The selected indicators will track whether global tourism concentrates towards fewer dominating source markets and recipient destinations, or whether it diversifies over time. Data also show whether visitors from developing countries are increasingly participating in global tourism.

Key facts

  • The share of the Top 10 outbound countries of total global tourism expenditure in 2016 was 56%; the same as in 2015. Thus, over half of international tourism export activity is due to 10 countries.
  • The long-term pattern indicates that the concentration of outbound expenditure amongst the Top 10 has declined between 2000 and 2010 to reach a low point of about 52%. It has since increased due to the growing dominance of Chinese tourism expenditure, and appears steady in the moment.
  • Outbound expenditure by international tourists from China alone contributes 21%. The second largest outbound spender is the USA, contributing 11%.
  • In terms of tourism receiving countries, the Top 10 destinations accumulated 49% of global tourism expenditure in 2016. Thus, half of the economic impact (and benefit) concentrates in about 10 countries. This share has increased slightly from 2015, when it was 48%.
  • The analysis of the WTTC data demonstrates the heavy concentration of benefit received by the top three countries, namely the USA, China and Spain. China is now on second place in terms of inbound tourism value, after the USA and before Spain.
  • In 2016, Macao is no longer in the top 10 of inbound countries, measured in international expenditure. Whilst it ranked No. 10 in 2015, this spot is now taken by Japan.
  • The share of international outbound tourism coming from LDC and SIDS countries is very small, and measured only 2.8% in 2016.