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Outbound Tourism

Outbound tourism is traveling ‘out’ of your home country for tourism. It is an essential type of tourism for a country. Many countries rely heavily on travelers leaving their home countries searching for an international tourism experience.

But what do foreign tourists actually mean? In this blog, I will explain what the term outbound tour means, provide the definition of outbound trip, and I will discuss the pros and cons of outbound tourism. 

Finally, I will provide examples of destinations with significant outbound tourism markets. So let’s dive in!

What is Outbound Tourism?

A group enjoying their outbound trip

In short, outbound tourism means visits by residents of a country outside that country. 

An outbound trip is when people from one country travel to another country for different reasons, like vacation or work, and stay there for a maximum of 12 months. It means leaving their home country and visiting different places for enjoyment, business, or other activities. It doesn’t include buying things or services in their own country before or after the trip. 

The terms outbound tour and inbound tourism are often used interchangeably because when someone travels internationally, they leave their home country (outbound) and enter another country (inbound).

So, the only exception is if someone is on a multi-center trip, like a backpacker, where they may not necessarily be traveling from their home country.

Outbound Tourism Definitions

Two different tourist spots

The WTO (World Trade Organization) and the United Nations (United States Nations) define outbound tourism as,

“the action of leaving your home country internationally for more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes.”

When we talk about an outbound tour, it simply means leaving your home country to travel internationally for up to 1 year for leisure, business, or other purposes. 

Some other organizations have also offered definitions for the term outbound trip. 

The European Union defines outbound tourism as: ‘Visits from residents of any country outside that country.’

Similarly, Visit Britain states that outbound tourism is: ‘The activities of a resident visitor outside their country of residence.’

Importance of Outbound Tourism

A group of people traveling by camel

The outbound tour is essential for many countries worldwide. Here is the importance of outbound tourism:

  • The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) offers a useful tool on its website to demonstrate the value of outbound tourism in different parts of the world.
  • Outbound tourism has positive impacts on the economy beyond the tourism industry alone.
  • It can also contribute to the economic growth of various sectors, including retail, healthcare, and education.
  • However, some countries rely excessively on outbound tours.
  • It helps increase employment opportunities, foreign currency earnings, and trade balance.
  • If there is a decline in tourism, such as during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, a country’s economy could suffer severe consequences.
  • Countries must diversify their sources of income to avoid over-reliance on tourism.

Growth of the US Outbound Tour Industry

A man is hiking on ice mountain

Outbound tourism is a type of travel where people from one country visit other parts of the world for various reasons such as business meetings, vacations, or medical treatments. 

In recent years, the outbound tour has become increasingly popular in countries like the US, Germany, China, and the UK. There is a growing desire to escape and explore new places.

Let’s see the growth of the US outbound tourism industry:

  • The US outbound tourism market is estimated to be worth $101,697.0 million in 2022 and is projected to reach $458,986.8 million by 2032.
  • The desire for outbound trips in the US is projected to increase steadily at a rate of 16.3% per year from 2022 to 2032.
  • The increasing popularity of outbound trips among Americans significantly contributes to the industry’s growth.
  • According to the Tourism Academy, Americans take approximately 93.0 million international trips annually, expected to increase in the forecast period.
  • Americans prefer spending their holidays outside the country, driven by the desire to escape and explore new places.
  • This trend creates a favorable market for outbound tour companies operating in the US.
  • The US outbound tourism market is further boosted by the increasing use of digital technology, the medical tourism industry, and the growing curiosity among Americans to travel for religious, cultural, educational, recreational, and medical purposes.
  • These factors combined are expected to contribute to the growth and success of the US outbound tour market.
  • In addition, the growing influence of social media will likely boost sales in the market during the forecast period. Social media and other new technologies have revolutionized the tourism industry.
AttributesKey Insights
U.S. Outbound Tourism Market Estimated Size (2022)US$ $ 101,697.0 Million
Projected Market Size (2032)US$ 458,986.8 Million
Value-based CAGR (2022 to 2032)16.3%

Positive Impacts of Outbound Tourism

Positive Impacts of Outbound Tour

Outbound trip benefits both the traveler’s home country and the destination they visit. Here are some positive impacts of outbound tourism:

  • The outbound tour can contribute to the economy in the traveler’s home country. When tourists use local operators like the national airline or domestic tourism agents, some profits remain within the home country.
  • In the tourist destination, there are various economic advantages. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) graph highlights the areas that benefit the most from outbound tourism.
  • Foreign exchange income is particularly beneficial in destinations with weak currencies. As a result, many destinations focus their marketing efforts on countries with strong currencies, like the UK, USA, or Europe.
  • Outbound tourism also positively impacts the broader economy of the destination. For example, income from tourism can be reinvested in areas such as healthcare and education, helping to boost the overall economy.

Negative Impacts of Outbound Trip

Two major economic issues can have a negative impact on tourist destinations.

The first issue is economic leakage. When outbound tourists visit a destination, they often spend their money in well-known chain establishments like Hilton Hotels or McDonald’s. It means that the money they spend leaves the local area, reducing the positive economic effects of tourism.

The second issue is over-dependence. Suppose a destination relies too heavily on outbound tourism. In that case, it can face problems if there is a disruption in the industry.

A see beach

Disruptions to tourism happen frequently worldwide due to natural disasters, political unrest, economic instability, and pandemics. These disruptions can harm the tourism industry and the economies of destinations that heavily rely on outbound tours.


In conclusion, outbound tourism plays a significant role in the global travel industry. It involves people from country to country traveling for various purposes such as leisure, business, or medical treatments. 

Outbound tour benefits the traveler’s home country by boosting the economy through local operators. In addition, it provides economic advantages to the host destination.

However, there are certain challenges associated with the outbound trips. Economic leakage occurs when tourists spend money in large chain organizations, causing the funds to leave the destination and limiting the positive impacts of tourism. 



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