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Max Roser (2017) – ‘Tourism’. Published online at Retrieved from: [Online Resource]

This short entry presents how tourism has changed over time globally.

# Empirical View

# International arrivals by world region

# Arrivals by world region

The first visualisation shows how tourist arrivals have increased since shortly after the Second World War in 1950.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that internationally there were just 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950.
66 years later this number has increased to 1.2 billion international arrivals per year. This is a 49-fold increase.

# Changing relative distribution of tourist arrivals

The second chart shows the same data in relative terms. In 1950 full two-thirds of tourists arrived in Europe. Over the following 66 years the relative importance declined to exactly 50%, but it is still the most important touristic region.

Asia and Pacific had only very small importance as a tourist destination in 1950. In 2016 however, every fourth tourist arrived in the region.

# Data Sources

# United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
  • Data: Various measures related to tourism such as tourist arrivals, departures, and spending.
  • Geographical coverage: Global
  • Time span: Mostly focussed on recent developments, but some data going back to 1950.
  • Available at:

# World Bank – World Development Indicators
  • Data: Arrivals, departures, expenditure, expenditure by traveller, receipts as share of exports and more
  • Geographical coverage:Global
  • Time span: 1995 to today
  • Available at: The data is published in the World Development Indicators online.