Tourism is travel
for pleasure; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of
attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business
of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveler's country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism
more generally, in terms which go "beyond the common perception of
tourism as being limited to holiday activity only ", as people
"traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for
not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other
purposes". Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country's balance of payments.
Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and
affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases
being of vital importance.
Tourism suffered as a result of a strong economic slowdown of the late-2000s recession, between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, and the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, but slowly recovered. International tourism receipts (the travel item in the balance of payments) grew to US$1.03 trillion (€740 billion) in 2011, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.8% from 2010. International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012, the same year in which China became the largest spender in international tourism globally with US$102 billion, surpassing Germany and United States. China and emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil had significantly increased their spending over the previous decade.