Emerging economies increase tourism promotion budgets

UNITED NATIONS Recent years have seen some large increases in the budgets of national tourism organizations in emerging economies, a new joint UNWTO and European Travel Commission report has revealed.

Despite the difficult economic climate, the report shows that some two-thirds of the surveyed national tourism organizations saw increases in their budgets in 2009, although at a lower rate of growth than that registered between 2006 and 2008. This growth was particularly significant in emerging economies. 

According to the report, increases in national tourism budgets can in part be attributed to the continuing trend toward establishing well-funded national tourism promotion agencies in emerging economies and the awareness of the potential for boosting tourism through increased promotion. The importance of additional funding as a complement to initial budgets seems to have been increasing to cater for sporting mega-events, to promote big cultural events, business events and expos or to recover from specific disruptions affecting tourism, such as natural disasters, health outbreaks or the overall global economic crisis.

Another key finding is the increased responsibility for domestic tourism among national tourism organizations. With consumers tending to travel closer to home in times of economic hardship, several destinations have seen domestic tourism endure the crisis better and even grow significantly. About 70% of respondents see domestic tourism as a core responsibility, more than double the share five years ago. UNWTO estimates that domestic tourism represents four times the volume of international tourism, meaning there are some 4 billion domestic tourist arrivals worldwide, compared to the 880 million international tourist arrivals registered in 2009.

Average spending on Internet and e-marketing activities varies from US$5 million to US$7 million for some of the largest and richest destinations to US$ 50,000 for some of the smaller ones. In spite of the growing importance given by national tourism organizations to electronic communications, most marketing budgets are still allocated to advertising, printed materials and participation in fairs.

The report compiles and analyses data on the overall budgets of 62 national tourism organizations from around the world, including their respective sources of funding and their spending priorities, as well as their main areas of promotional investment.