Tourism is defined as the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.
Tourism is an activity which has grown substantially over the last thirty years as an economic and social phenomenon. However, statistical information on the nature, progress and consequences of tourism is mainly based on arrivals and overnight stay tourism statistics as well as Balance of Payments information which do not grasp the whole economic phenomenon of tourism. Consequently, governments, businesses and citizens may not receive the accurate tourism statistics, necessary for effective public policies and efficient business operations.
In the past, the tourism statistics focused on the characteristics of visitors, on the conditions in which they travelled and stayed, the purpose of visit, etc. Now there is an increasing awareness of the role that tourism is playing and can play, directly, indirectly or through induced effects in the economy in terms of generation of value added, employment, personal income, government income, etc.
In particular, the type of data on tourism required both by the public and the private sector has changed in nature. Besides quantitative information on the flow of visitors such as arrivals and nights and descriptive information on the conditions in which visitors are received and served, countries now need robust information and indicators to enhance the credibility of the measurements concerning the economic importance of tourism.
There are three basic types of tourism. Domestic tourism is the tourism of resident visitors within the economic territory of the country of reference, that is, residents of the given country travelling only within this country. Domestic Tourism Consumption is the consumption of resident visitors within their country of reference. The final destination of the visitor might be within or outside the country of reference but the consumption activity that is referred to have to take place within this country of reference. It might include goods or services produced abroad or by non-residents but sold within the country of reference (imported goods and services). Note that this definition is broader than the common understanding of the term "domestic" within tourism statistics (involving residents of the country of reference travelling and remaining within the country) and as defined here domestic tourism consumption includes what was traditionally identified as the domestic portion of outbound tourism consumption.
Inbound tourism is the tourism of non resident visitors within the economic territory of the country of reference, that is, non-residents of the given country travelling within the given country. Inbound Tourism Consumption comprises the consumption of non resident visitors within the economic territory of the country of reference and/or that provided by residents.
Outbound tourism is the tourism of resident visitors outside the economic territory of the country of reference, that is, residents of the given country travelling in another country.
Internal Tourism Consumption - comprises all consumption of visitors both resident and non-resident within the economic territory of the country of reference. It is the sum of domestic tourism consumption and inbound tourism consumption.
World Tourism Organization's 2005 Statistical travel report overview:
"After three years of stagnation, international tourism experienced spectacular growth in 2005. International tourist arrivals reached an all-time record of 760 million (+10%). Tourism growth occurred in all world regions, but was strongest in the Asia-Pacific region (+29%) and in the Middle East (+20%). Double-digit growth was also registered in the Americas (+10%), while Africa (+7%) and Europe (+4%) performed below the world average. Tourism growth in the Americas under the effects of the USD/euro exchange rate was the largest contributor to world growth in tourism flows. The recovery of the world economy, and in particular of the economies of important American and European generating markets also contributed to the very good results obtained in 2005."