The exponential growth of international tourism is one of the most relevant social and economic phenomena in the last 50 years, opening a door to developing countries to participate in the global marketplace.
Worldwide, tourism is a leading component of international trade. Tourism generates income in foreign currency, attracts public and private investment, creates the need for infrastructure, promotes the creation of large and small businesses and thus generates employment.The contribution of tourism to country and regional economies continues to show an upward trend despite health, economic or natural crises. As of 2010, once the recession is past international tourist arrivals are expected to continue to grow, with Asia being the fastest-growing market. As traditional markets consolidate travel patterns, emerging markets like China and India are changing global tourism flows, providing an impulse without precedents to Asian destinations.
In South East Asia, tourism contributes 9.7% to the regional GDP, with a projected 6.3% growth rate per annum over the next ten years, a rate only surpassed by South Asia worldwide. With US$46 bn in 2010, tourism drives 10.5% of total capital investment. By the year 2010, tourism investment is estimated at US$140.2 bn. The travel and tourism economy is responsible for 22.5 million jobs, or 8.1% of total employment.