Global Perspective: The hospitality sector is expanding and evolving to support growing numbers of international travellers
17 Mar 2019
Aided by easier and cheaper travel, global tourism has experienced two decades of almost uninterrupted growth. According to the World Bank, the number of international departures more than doubled between 1997 and 2017, from 687m to 1.57bn per annum.
With the global middle class estimated by the US-based think tank Brookings Institution to be expanding by as many as 160m people per year, it is perhaps unsurprising that almost half of the growth in tourist numbers was accounted for by departures from low- and middle-income countries, which advanced from 121m in 1997 to 564m in 2017. There was also significant growth in the number of arrivals to lowand middle-income countries, increasing from 163m to 515m over the period, underlining the rapid development of their tourism industries.
With more people on the move than ever before, there is a clear need for sufficient tourist infrastructure. Notwithstanding the rise in accommodation sharing platforms like Airbnb, most travellers still choose to stay in hotels. In 2018 global accountancy firm Deloitte projected growth of 5-6% in gross bookings, to reach an all-time high of $170bn. Additionally, STR Global, an international hotel market data and benchmarking firm, reported in 2018 that the number of hotel rooms globally had increased by 17.7% since 2008 to reach 17m in 2018. These rooms were provided across more than 184,000 hotels, an 8.4% increase on 2008 levels. The fact that the rate of increase in the number of rooms is more than double the rate of increase in hotels indicates that the average hotel size has been growing.