The data helps to identify cities where growth is high and tourism is already intense, such as Porto (Portugal) or Cuzco (Peru) – chart above, Quadrant III – where planning today in tourism management could help to forestall some of the issues facing similar cities in the top 100 list. Cities where this is less of an issue now but could be worth considering include Quebec (Canada) and Chiang Mai (Thailand)—Quadrant IV. Opportunity areas such as Nairobi (Kenya) or Izmir (Turkey), show promise as emerging hotspots for travel, where the intensity of foreign visits remains manageable—Quadrant I. For destinations that could be put on the map even more for global tourism flows, look to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Melbourne (Australia) and other cities in Quadrant II.
Strategies to encourage greater destination diversity could harness the differences between outbound travel markets, especially the different dynamics between advanced versus emerging market economies. When it comes to getting travelers to diversify their destination choices, travelers from more advanced markets may be more open to such messages. Their top 100 destinations represented only 44 percent of their total travel in 2018, as opposed to 61 percent for emerging market travelers. This could also go a long way in addressing the near-term challenges of overtourism, as nearly two-thirds of the increase in and volume of international arrivals last year originated in the relatively wealthier, advanced economies of the world (including the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand). In the most intensely visited destinations in the world today, a visitor is more than twice as likely to be from an advanced market as an emerging market, with that probability rising for European destinations.
Taking advantage of when people choose to travel could be one way to alleviate the pressure on locations during peak travel seasons. The timing of when most people take their vacations in advanced markets, which occurs mainly between June and August, largely drives the current seasonality in global travel. This should change over time as travelers from emerging markets increasingly drive global travel growth. In 2018, arrivals from emerging markets rose 11 percent, compared to only 7 percent for advanced economies. Emerging market travelers tend to spread their travel out more evenly across the year, but their impact on most destinations has been more limited given how concentrated their travel destinations are currently.
So long as foreign vacations remain an aspirational luxury for many consumers around the world, the number of people taking to the ski slopes, boats, trains and roads will continue to rise. The three forces covered in Visa’s 2016 study, “Mapping the Future of Global Travel and Tourism”—including a rising global traveling class, global aging and increasing connectivity— should continue to power the growth in outbound tourism in coming years. With an estimated 1.8 billion international trips expected to be taken each year over the next 10 years, according to Visa’s study, big data can help to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of cross-border travel, both by identifying emerging hotspots for global travel and measuring the impact of current and potential growth on destinations.