It looks like we’re all going to take more international trips over the next few years—at least according to a study released last week, “Mapping the Future of Global Travel and Tourism.” Conducted by Oxford Economics (a forecasting organization working with Oxford University) and Visa, it provided a whole slew of predictions about how much international travel people will be doing and who, exactly, will be doing it.
First, the study predicted that by 2025, 50 percent more travelers (more than 1.8 billion people) will take an international trip every year. In economic terms that means international tourists, who now spend more than $1 trillion abroad every year, will likely spend $1.5 trillion in 2025. Reasons for the expected increase include changing demographics, technological advances, and the construction of 340 new airports worldwide over the next decade, all of which will make international travel more attainable. The study also singled out the growing number of mobile devices around the globe as a factor, noting that they will lead to more awareness about travel options and allow more people to personalize their trips.
Second, findings showed that growing income levels around the world are creating a new “traveling class,” a group of people who earn at least $20,000 per year and account for more than 90 percent of spending on international travel today. As many as 945 million households could belong to this traveling class by 2025, and they could each spend an average of $5,300 or more on international travel every year.
So where is this traveling class coming from? They’re spread all across the world, but some countries are predicted to spend more on travel than others. Not surprisingly, China is expected to top the growth chart. Travelers from the middle kingdom will spend somewhere around $255.4 billion per year by 2025, an 86 percent increase compared to 2015. The United States will likely have the second-largest growth, with $134.1 billion in annual travel spending, a 33 percent increase over 2015. Other countries expected to be in the top five, in terms of spending, are Germany (at $97.6 billion), the United Kingdom ($96.9 billion), and the Russian Federation ($49.1 billion).
Another intriguing prediction from the study is that by 2025 travelers ages 65 and older will more than double their international travel and will be able to spend more on longer, more luxurious trips. Medical tourism is also expected to grow by 25 percent per year over the next 10 years.
The bottom line: Get your passports ready.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In more than 18 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Alaska Airlines, and more. He is a senior editor for the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.