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Growing middle class, urbanization and tourism provide increasing opportunities for exports

Written by Saige Albert
Laramie – “There are three global factors – the development of the global middle class, urbanization and global travel – that are driving a whole set of global opportunities,” said Robert Tse of the USDA Rural Development California State Office.
    As a result of global increases in those three sectors, Tse explained that there are opportunities for agriculture exports for both Wyoming and the U.S.
Middle class growth
    “We have seen sharp expansion with the size of the new middle class,” comments Tse, “which means more customers and a broader distribution of global income. That means more people have money to move.”
    Tse continued to explain that the middle class in the Asia Pacific region will increase from 525 million in 2009 to a projected 3.2 billion by 2030, when they will make up 66 percent of the global middle class.
    “Asia Pacific is where the money is,” he said, mentioning that China and India are large drivers of the region.
    Not only is the middle class increasing, but people are moving out of rural environments and into urban settings.
Urban populations
    “Not only are people moving into the cities, they are moving into big cities,” Tse commented. “China is a country that was 85 percent rural, and it has always been mostly rural, with extremely low per capita income.”
    However, the trend is changing, and Tse says that 70 percent of Chinese people will live in cities with 1 million people in the next decade, which also means that there will be greater needs for agricultural products in those areas.
    “In the next 10 years, China will have 22 cities with more than 1 million people,” he added.
    The number of mega cities around the world will also increase. A mega city, says Tse, is one with a population of greater than 10 million people.
    “Right now, we have 23 mega cities globally, and we are on our way to 36 in the next 10 to 20 years,” Tse noted. “That growth comes from people moving into these areas.”
Tourism as export
    “Another global trend that is a byproduct of urbanization and middle class development is tourism,” said Tse. “Global tourism develops because people have more money, and they travel.”
    “Tourism, in economic terms, is an export of services,” explained Tse. “Tourism receipts make up a trillion dollar market, up 3.6 percent in 2011.”
    The World Tourism Organization tracks tourism, and in 2011, showed increases across the board.
    “When transportation is included, international tourism is a $1.2 trillion industry,” said Tse. “The number of travellers in 2011 was 982 million who spend $3.4 billion a day, in terms of global tourism.”
    Tourism increases are attributed to increases in the global middle class. Tse also added that governmental restrictions have eased in some places as well.
    “In China’s case, the government has reduced travel restrictions,” he continued. “They now have the money and income to travel.”
Global impacts
    Looking at the history of tourism impacts, Tse pointed out that tourism dollars only totaled $2 billion in 1950, but are projected to reach 1.8 billion travellers by 2010.
    “The total growth has gone up by huge amounts,” he added, “and increases exactly reflect the populations and urbanism.”
    Asia Pacific tourists have grown from 204 million in 2010 to a projected 541 million in 2030, accounting for the largest increases in tourism.
    The same trends, however, can be seen in those countries increases in per capita income and rising urbanization trends.
U.S. impacts
    “Looking at the U.S., we have a similar trends. There were 62 million international visitors here in 2011, and there will be 77 million by 2016,” Tse projected. “Translated in terms of revenues, tourism receipts were at $116 billion. That is not a small amount.”
    Scaled down to local standards, there were 3.7 million international visitors to the Mountain West in 2011, and 279,000 international visitors to Denver.
    “Wyoming shows that tourists were spending $2.9 billion in the state in 2011, with $739 million of that on food,” said Tse. “International visitors brought $141 million, not including those from Mexico and Canada.”
    The U.S. Park Service Survey also indicated that Yellowstone National Park saw 3.4 million total visitors in 2011, 10 percent of which were international tourists.
    “When we compare these numbers to agriculture exports, which totaled $13 million,” commented Tse, “we see that tourism is a legitimate form of export.”
    Tse addressed attendees of the AgriFuture Conference, held Oct. 16-18 in Laramie. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..