In terms of the numbers involved in international travel Western Europe is the all-out leader. Keeping in mind how easy it is to become an international traveler (crossing a national border) in Europe, West Germany provides the most international travelers of any country. With a population of about sixty-one million it saw about forty-one million classified as international travelers in 1979. The United States was second as a generator of international travelers with close to thirty million people so classified in 1979. In that year 68 percent of all international tourists came from but twelve countries.
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The number generated by each of those countries is seen here along with their resident populations:
Source: Economic Review of World Tourism, 1982 Edition, World Tourism Organization, Madrid.
Plainly, we Americans are pikers when it comes to per capita international travel. On a per capita basis the Swiss are the big travelers abroad. So too are the Austrians, the.
Belgians, and the Dutch. In fact, only two of the big twelve country travelers do less international traveling than do we, Italy and Japan. Of course, as pointed out, traveling from Iowa to Switzerland is quite a different matter than crossing a Swiss border to France, Italy, Germany, or Austria.
This is not to say that tourist flows are easily explained in terms of distance that is, shorter distances, more travel, greater distances, less travel. Other factors impinge on travel decisions. France and Germany are side by side but there is relatively little travel between the two. The same is true between Austria and Switzerland and between Italy and Austria. Austrians travel to Italy but not many Italians visit Austria. Germans pour over the border into Austria. The Dutch visit Britain in large numbers. Discretionary income of the traveler, personal security considerations, travel costs, historical ties, old enmities, exchange rates, language barriers and political relations, and a dozen other factors may play on a travel decision.