Quantifying Travel: How Many People Travel a Year?

🕒 5 min.

Travelling is fun. Humans have been travelling ever since the dawn of civilization. These days, with so many vibrant cultures, gorgeous sights, and excellent food available worldwide, people can’t seem to get enough of travelling.

Travelling itself has also become far, far cheaper than it used to be. While in the past, it took thousands of dollars to fly over the Atlantic, now it only takes a couple of hundred with a budget airline option – but that begs the question:

“How many people travel a year?”

Far less than they used to, at least in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has us all a bit worried. Due to the lockdown, travel restrictions, and financial crunch most of us face – it’s fair to assume that travelling to exciting holiday destinations isn’t our top priority.

Nevertheless, in this article, we’ll cover some of the most interesting recent millennial travel statistics as well as general ones and comparing them to the past years.

How Many People Traveled Internationally in 2019?

The year 2019 was perfect for the global travel industry. More people travelled than ever, and the total contribution to the global GDP from travelling has increased. People have also started seeking out alternative destinations that weren’t nearly as popular in the past.

As of 2019, the global travelling industry has experienced a very positive year with over $9,258 trillion in total travel and tourism contributions to the global GDP – a $3,454 trillion increase in just a decade.

While it’s hard to measure just how many people travelled in 2019, a rough estimate would be about 1.46 billion, which means that every fifth person in the world travelled in 2019.

The most popular destination for travelling in 2019 was Tokyo, Japan. Japan is continually topping the charts as a popular destination for casual, holiday, and business travelling – primarily due to the annual Golden Week festival.

Some other popular destinations for travelling in 2019 were Serbia, Australia, China, and Spain.

The most popular region to visit was North Asia, with a total contribution of $2.1 to the global GDP, which is only $0.1 trillion more than Europe, contributing to the worldwide GDP in the same timeframe.

How Many People Traveled Internationally in 2020?

With the advent of the coronavirus, the travelling industry took a sharp hit in 2020. The numbers are down, most likely due to the many travel restrictions imposed to cut down on the coronavirus’s spread – but the overall growth is still positive. Many people haven’t travelled as much because many of them lost their jobs and are tighter on funds than they used to be.

Nevertheless, 2020 wasn’t a complete bust when it comes to travelling. The global contribution the travel industry has had on the global GDP is $10,001 trillion.

The most popular place to visit in 2020 has been Macau, the world’s renowned gambling capital located in the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the global travel industry has surprisingly exceeded many expectations that people had for 2020.

The most famous hotel chain in 2020 has been Hilton Hotels & Resorts, with a whopping  $10.83 billion in brand value. Due to the many travel restrictions, particular places such as Australia, India, and Japan have seen a decrease in visitation over 2020.

According to a report, though, in the first half of 2020, international tourist travels went down by 65%. This roughly translates to 440 million international arrivals less than the year before. And, according to another report, it is estimated that the number of international tourist travels can go down by as much as 80% by the end of 2020. 

The actual numbers will show the reality, but it is too early to know for certain. This poses a ton of problems – mainly impacting people who are employed in this sector.

But, as borders are opening up, it is expected that the numbers will go back up. However, we can safely say that these numbers were expected due to several travel restrictions caused by COVID-19.

Historical Comparison With the Previous Years

The world of travelling has grown exponentially in the 21st century, and each passing year seems to be bigger than the last. Booking numbers are up, travel is getting less expensive, and more destinations are becoming that much more appealing.

While the growth might be exponential, slow and steady wins the race. For example, the world travel contributions to the global GDP don’t always increase year after year, as 2015 was less profitable than 2014.

The most consistent travel destinations by their popularity in the past decade have been the UAE, Macao, Japan, China, and Mexico.

Continent-wise, the situation hasn’t changed much. Europe and Asia are still pretty tied as the most popular destination for visits, while Oceania and Africa are at the bottom. The Middle East and Northern Asia have met the most significant rise in popularity.

Recent Travel Trends

The habits of travellers have changed quite considerably, especially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the most significant changes that consumers have demanded from the travelling industry are:

  • Integration of IoT Technology
  • Improved cleanliness and sanitation
  • Easier booking
  • More affordable flights
  • Green hotels
  • Wellness vacations

People are also favouring exploring holiday destinations on their own as opposed to a tour-guided vacation. More and more people seek out holidays and country-specific events rather than regular vacations in those countries, which becomes apparent with Japan’s Golden Week.

Customers are also looking to cut down on their carbon footprint as much as possible, which is why green hotels are far more popular.

Travellers are increasingly seeking travel insurance, as safety is becoming a more prominent consumer demand. This is also why travellers are seeking IATA-certified agencies at a significantly increased rate.

The Bottom Line

Travelling is one of the most fundamental needs that human beings have hardwired into their hearts and minds. Exploring new places, cultures, and cuisine is just as important as meeting new people, acquainting yourself with new things, and enriching your experiences.

The world of travelling is only growing, as travelling itself is becoming better, simpler, and more affordable – not to mention that the amount of options is continually growing. While the pandemic might have most of us locked up in our homes, we’re sure that once SARS-COV-2 subsides, travel will pick right back up where it started.

  • Hotelmize is an AI-driven Travel-tech startup company that allows travel companies to increase their hotel bookings’ profits by more than 35%, optimizing their purchasing rates post-booking in a fully automated procedure.Hotelmize monitors and processes millions of bookings and billions of US$ value each year.

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