Weekly Economic Briefing

Tourism Economics

27 June 2017

Global Overview

  • The tourism sector is a large, important component of many countries' export basket. Although growing in absolute terms, the relative competitiveness of tourism exports depends of exchange rate, security, and geopolitical factors.
  • US travel exports have slowed in 2017 hitting a 10-month low in April. Although speculation has mounted about whether US policies are to blame, it is still too early to identify the reason or whether the slowdown will persist.
  • Tourist arrivals to the UK have skyrocketed following the collapse in sterling, as record numbers of foreign tourists visit the UK. Europe is also seeing a boost but the drivers are different.
  • Chinese government policies restricting tourism to Korea are causing a severe drop-off in Chinese arrivals and if continued it could shave close to 0.3 percentage points off Korean growth.
  • The increase in outbound Chinese tourism has had a global economic and geopolitical impact. However, it appears much of their vaunted spending power might be overestimated as a lot of the outlay seems to be on financial assets instead of foreign-produced goods and services.


Although the US tourism trade surplus has been on a continuous upward trend, the recent strength of the US dollar has negatively impacted the sector.



Tourism in the UK has been healthy, with the depreciation in sterling increasing the spending power of those visiting. For UK consumers, overseas travel is more expensive and in decline.



The tourism industry is fundamental to a number of southern European countries. A weaker pound may be bad news, while the impact of terror attacks is hard to parse.


Japan & Developed Asia

South Korea's tourism industry is reeling from a slump in Chinese tourist numbers. The sector will need to display all its fabled resilience to survive.


Emerging Markets

The US government estimates the average Chinese visitor spends between $6000 and $7200 per trip. However, it turns out much of this may be on financial assets instead of goods and services.


Standard Life Investments’ Global Strategy team provide regular analysis of the key economic data that has been influencing financial markets.

Available on a weekly basis, the Weekly Economic Briefing takes a detailed look at the global economic issues that have been impacting our investment strategy. The regional approach aims to provide an easy-to-navigate guide to the most recent developments in the global economy.

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