International tourism, number of departures

Definition: International outbound tourists are the number of departures that people make from their country of usual residence to any other country for any purpose other than a remunerated activity in the country visited. The data on outbound tourists refer to the number of departures, not to the number of people traveling. Thus a person who makes several trips from a country during a given period is counted each time as a new departure.

Description: The map below shows how International tourism, number of departures varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is China, with a value of 98,185,000.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is Tuvalu, with a value of 2,100.00.

Source: World Tourism Organization, Yearbook of Tourism Statistics, Compendium of Tourism Statistics and data files.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Tourism is officially recognized as a directly measurable activity, enabling more accurate analysis and more effective policy. Whereas previously the sector relied mostly on approximations from related areas of measurement (e.g. Balance of Payments statistics), tourism today possesses a range of instruments to track its productive activities and the activities of the consumers that drive them: visitors (both tourists and excursionists). An increasing number of countries have opened up and invested in tourism development, making tourism a key driver of socio-economic progress through export revenues, the creation of jobs and enterprises, and infrastructure development. As an internationally traded service, inbound tourism has become one of the world's major trade categories. For many developing countries it is one of the main sources of foreign exchange income and a major component of exports, creating much needed employment and development opportunities.

Limitations and Exceptions: Tourism can be either domestic or international. The data refers to international tourism, where the traveler's country of residence differs from the visiting country. International tourism consists of inbound (arrival) and outbound (departures) tourism. The data are from the World Tourism Organization (WTO), a United Nations agency. The data on inbound and outbound tourists refer to the number of arrivals and departures, not to the number of people traveling.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Statistical information on tourism is based mainly on data on arrivals and overnight stays along with balance of payments information. These data do not completely capture the economic phenomenon of tourism or provide the information needed for effective public policies and efficient business operations. Data are needed on the scale and significance of tourism. Information on the role of tourism in national economies is particularly deficient. Although the World Tourism Organization reports progress in harmonizing definitions and measurement, differences in national practices still prevent full comparability. Departures data measure the flows of resident visitors leaving the country of reference. Departures are not necessarily equal to the number of arrivals reported by international destinations for the country of reference. In many countries, the characteristics of trips and visitors are established through questions on the entry/departure cards, in surveys at the borders, at destination (accommodation surveys) or as part of household surveys (for domestic and outbound tourism). The entry/departure cards, or records of entry and departure, captured and reconciled by the immigration authorities are often the basic source for establishing the flows of inbound and outbound visitors. These cards usually collect information on a census basis on name, sex, age, nationality, current address, date of arrival (or departure in the departure card), purpose of trip, main destination visited and length of stay (expected on arrival and actual on departure for inbound visitors; expected on departure and actual on arrival for outbound visitors). Data is collected using one of three methods, or a combination of these to determine the flows of outbound visitors: using an entry/departure card; a specific survey at the border, or observing them from household surveys because they belong to resident households. In the latter case, the information on outbound trips is usually collected at the same time as that on domestic trips.

Aggregation method: Gap-filled total

Periodicity: Annual