MADRID (AFP) - The Asia-Pacific region, led by China, will be the main force driving world tourism in the next 10 years, a consultancy survey forecast on Wednesday.
The tourism industry as a whole will grow faster than overall economic activity, the survey estimated.
"The major trend is the continued growth in Asia, that is really driving the global travel industry forward," economist Andrew Tessler at Oxford Economics which published the survey, said.
"Overall, globally, the industry is growing faster than GDP (gross domestic product), at least in the forecast years up to 2023," he said.
The survey was carried out for the biggest travel booking company, Madrid-based Amadeus, and Tessler said that two big factors in the sector were the rise of low-cost service providers and increasing use of mobile phones to organise and book travel arrangements.
The study estimated that the number of tourists would rise by 5.4 per cent a year in the next 10 years.
This would be higher than the expected rate of economic growth, put at 3.4 per cent.
In terms of tourism activity, in Europe and North America "there will be a gradual recovery, a slow recovery from the effects of recession," the survey said.
Europe's share of the market would fall, but Europe "will still be the largest recipient of tourism flows."
The world tourism industry went through the worst business conditions for 60 years in 2009 under the impact of the global financial crisis, according to the World Tourism Organisation which says that the number of tourists arriving somewhere had fallen by 3.8 per cent in that year.
In 2010, the figure rallied by 6.6 per cent, and since then by 4.0-5.0 per cent a year, to exceed 1.0 billion.
The biggest growth of tourism last year occurred in the Asia-Pacific region where it grew by 6.0 per cent, the WTO data show.
Tessler said that "really a lot of the global growth is still going to be driven by Asia."
He added: "We expect that China will become the largest outbound travel market this year and the biggest domestic market by 2017."
Although the share of the market accounted for by Europe would decline, Europe "will still be the largest recipient of tourism flows," he said.