10 Countries That Spend the Most on International Tourism

What does a country’s expenditure on international tourism or travel abroad indicate? Is it their citizens’ disposable wealth; a love of adventure; a need to leave one’s daily routine, or perhaps just an individual’s decision to get away? People travel alone, with friends, in couples and in families. There are all-inclusive tours for those who are less adventurous or who want more bang for their buck, allowing tourists to see as much as possible in the way of popular sights - and sites! - within a short period, without having to think about a thing along the way like who will drive, what the route is, or where to stop and eat.

Some can afford to travel in style, staying at five-star hotels wherever they go and eating at only the best restaurants. Others backpack their way through whole continents and more, staying at hostels and other cheap establishments. There are all-inclusive beach resorts, out-of-the-way villages where one can rent a villa, home-exchange websites and all sorts of other options. Some prefer a relaxing beach trip, some an historic city. Some tourists want something more modern, perhaps, with a focus on food and shopping. Whatever your taste, there's somewhere in the world for every intrepid voyager.

Some nations in particular seem to enjoy venturing off their native soil for pastures new much more often than most nations. The World Bank collects statistics on such things; their latest figures are from 2012, and illustrate that people from all over love to hop on planes, buses, trains - whatever it takes to get to another country for a vacation. One of the most interesting facts to take note of is that the amount a country spends is not necessarily a reflection of how many people in that country travel, as figures include overall spending for the nation as well as per capita averages. Which countries around the world spend the most overall on their international escapades? Figures are quoted in U.S. dollars.

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10 Italy: $26.4 billion


With a reduction of over $2 billion since the previous year, Italy spent $26.4 billion on international tourism in 2012, accounting for a full 2.5%of the global market share in the tourism industry. Italians are reputed to be a gregarious, passionate bunch with a taste for the flamboyant. Is that how they take their vacations? These Mediterranean people prefer traveling to London, Paris and New York, a sure sign that they are urbanite jetsetters. They also enjoy visiting Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Miami, Vienna and Madrid. Buon viaggio!

9 Australia: $27.6 billion


G’day, mate! Which countries do people from down under head to when they want a change of pace? Their next-door neighbor, New Zealand, is their first choice. That makes sense, given that everywhere else is so far away! Aussies also frequently choose travel to Indonesia, the U.S., Thailand and Great Britain, and their tourism is increasing with a 3% hike from $26.7 billion between 2011 and 2012. Where Italians only spent a per capita average of $433 on international travel for the year, Australians forked out substantially more, at an average $1,210 per head when total expenditure is divided by the country’s population.

8 Japan:$27.9 billion


Japan came in at No. 8 at a close shave, spending just $0.3 billion more than Australia. However, as Japan has more than five times the population of Australia, the per capita expense ends up much lower, perhaps suggesting that even though Japan spent more as a country, Japanese people either place less importance on international travel or have less disposable income. Japan, like Australia, controls 2.6% of the global market share of tourism. Where do these people, known to be hardworking most of the year, go to let loose? Hawaii comes in at No. 1, followed closely by Central-East Europe (Poland, Croatia, Hungary, etc.), Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Spain and Portugal.

7 Canada: $35.1 billion


Canada increased their tourism expenditure by more than 6% between '11 and '12, for a 3.3% of the market share in 2012. The Canucks spent a per-capita average of $1,007, joining Australia and only one other country in spending more than $1,000 per person on getting out of the country. Perhaps the cold climes encourage escape. Are Canadians travelling mostly to warm regions of the world? The neighboring United States is No. 1 on Canadians’ bucket list, where they favor states such as New York, Florida, Washington and California. Next in line for popularity are Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the U.K.

6 France: $37.2 billion


Voulez-vouz jouer avec moi? The French play hard, and their nation is reputed to be the most-visited in the world. So when everyone else is visiting France, where are they departing to? The French were the biggest group of people to visit Miami in the summer of 2013. They also love Hawaii, California and other parts of Florida, but surprisingly spent 8.7% less on international tourism than the year before, for a market share worth 3.5%. What is this difference in actual dollars? Who can tell what the French are doing differently or why (unemployment increases?), because they spent a whopping $7 billion more on travel in 2011 than in 2012.

5 Russia: $42.8 billion


This large nation formerly of the Soviet Republic had an astounding increase in international tourism between 2011 and 2012, with an expenditure growth of 36.5% - that's almost exactly $10 billion more than the previous year. Even with this increase, the average per capita expenditure is fairly low, at only $302 per person. Still, Russia accounts for 4% of the global market share in tourism, while its citizens head to places like Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Finland, China, the UAE, Spain, Italy and Germany. звучит как весело—“Sounds like fun!”

4 United Kingdom:   $52.3 billion


Where do Brits like to go when they get away from home? Cape Town is one of their favorite cities and New Zealand a favorite country. They also head to Italy, Iceland, Norway and the Maldives, with cities such as Vancouver and New York on their list, too. $828 is the average expenditure per capita, and the U.K. controls almost 5% of the global market share. These travelers don't always get a positive review from places they visit.  Frequent complaints are how much British tourists drink, their corresponding unruly behavior, an unwillingness to try local fare, and poor tipping habits. To be fair, the law in the U.K. requires servers to be paid nothing less than the usual minimum wage, so tipping there is less customary than in many other countries.

3 United States: $83.5 billion


With 7.8% of the market share for international tourism, the United States saw an increase of 6.7% in spending in this area for one year, with an extra output of over $5 billion. Despite being third in the world for total spending on international tourism, this nation is one of the lowest when it comes to related spending per capita annually, at only $266. Americans' favorite places to visit are, in this order, London, Paris, Rome, Toronto, Vancouver, Barcelona, Tokyo and Montreal. Also popular are Hong Kong, Niagara Falls and Amsterdam. And how do people around the world receive their American visitors? Though often labeled obnoxious, it was a comic from the U.S. identified only as Yankel who finally got one of the Queen's Beefeaters to smile in London.

2 Germany: $83.8 billion


Also with 7.8% of the market share like the U.S., Germans spent an average of $1,023 each on international tourism in 2012, up 5.8% from the year before. With Germany itself rated in 2013 as the safest travel destination by Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Reports, it is ironic these “safe” citizens leave! Germans in fact have a reputation for being difficult tourists who reportedly try to “find flaws” in their tour packages and surroundings while traveling. Is this because they are so well-off at home? When these travelers are not complaining, they like to travel within Europe; some of their favorite destinations include Spain, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Austria and France.

1 China:  $102 billion


China’s international tourism expenditure rose by over 37% between 2012 and 2013, a huge figure, illustrating the country’s recognition of the importance of exposure to different cultures and learning. This populous nation now controls almost 10% of the market share for the entire world when it comes to tourism-related travel, but because of the sheer number of people in the country, an average of only $75 U.S. is spent per capita. Where do Chinese travelers most like to go? Generally they choose destinations close by, with the U.S. ranking seventh after Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore.

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