“While tourism is often resource-intensive, it is a major driver of poverty reduction in developing countries.”
Arancha Gonzalez

(Slightly updated: July 2022)

Third World and Chinese Travelers

I don’t like using the term Third World. Before the fall of Communism, the Third World meant countries that were not aligned with the Soviet Union (Second World) or fully developed economically (First World). Today, social scientists prefer the Global South, lesser-developed, or developing countries. I use the term “Third World” at the beginning of the article because it is more recognized by Google’s search engines. Throughout the rest of this article, I will refer to these countries as Developing Countries instead.

The future growth in the travel industry lies in travelers from developing countries and China. Fifty Plus Nomads will increasingly notice more and more developing countries (especially Emerging Countries like India, Mexico, and Brazil) and Chinese travelers.

For example, between the early 2000s and 2014, the percentage of foreign travelers (excluding Canada and Mexico) to the US from the Third World increased from one-third to over one-half of all visitors.

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How are Travelers from Developing Countries and China Changing the Travel Industry?

Travelers from Developing Countries and China are also changing the travel industry, as they spend more, on average, per purchase than tourists from the developed world. The power of Developing countries and Chinese customers is particularly notable in retail, high-end stores featuring well-established luxury brands.

The airline market in Developing Countries is growing by leaps and bounds. Growth in air traffic in Asia-Pacific and Africa is three times that of the US. Plus, the top 10 fastest growing airports worldwide are all in Developing Countries. (Note: I am amazed at the high quality of Asian airports vs. the poor state of many US and European airports).

Leading hotels and cruise lines focus much of their new investment on Developing Countries. Hotels are adding new innovative and model technologies familiar to Asian tourists to capture this market.

In addition, cruises are now marketed more and more to Developing countries and Chinese markets. The potential for growth in these markets is incredible. Only a tiny percentage of Asians, Africans, and Latin Americans have been on a cruise. developing economies also add millions of people yearly with enough disposable income to take a cruise. (Cruise companies, in response, offer more cruises in developing countries that feature cuisines from that local area. When I went on a Holland America Patagonia cruise in 2014, approximately 30% of the cruisers I met came from Argentina, Brazil, or Chile).

Developing countries and Chinese travelers are also exploring more within their own countries. Between 2008 and 2013, Mexico saw a decrease in travelers from the US. However, the tourist industry survived because of a significant increase in Mexican tourists within their own country. (The number of travelers from Europe to Mexico also increased during the period).

I see evidence of the rise in third-world travelers in Merida. The majority of tourists in Merida come from other places in Mexico. Also, as an Airbnb host, I have had as many guests from Mexico, Argentina, Tunisia, and Bosnia as from Western Europe and the US.

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Want to Know More About Chinese Travelers?

Here is some information about Chinese travelers. 

Additional Long-Term Travel Post from Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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