Global tourist numbers exceeded 300 million for the first time during July and August, according to the latest figures from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Many destinations reported double-digit growth during the Northern Hemisphere summer peak season, in particular in the Mediterranean (above).
Tourist visitors worldwide for the eight months to the end of August were up 7% year-on-year, reaching 901 million. Growth was “well above” that seen in previous years, UNWTO said.
“With upbeat prospects for the remaining months of the year, 2017 is set to be the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism,” according to the organisation’s latest World Tourism Barometer.
Results reflect the sustained growth in many destinations combined with the recovery of those suffering from security challenges in recent years.
By regions, growth was strongest in Africa (+9%) and Europe (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), the Middle East (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).
“Tourism is a major economic engine and employment generator, contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of millions of people around the world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
In Europe, international arrivals rebounded in both Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%) and Western Europe (+7%) following a weak 2016. Arrivals grew by 6% in Northern Europe and 4% in Central and Eastern Europe.
Africa’s strong performance was largely due to a strong rebound in North Africa (+15%) and solid results from Sub-Saharan Africa (+5%).
South Asia (+10%) led growth in Asia and the Pacific, followed by South-East Asia (+8%) and Oceania (+7%), while results in North-East Asia (+3%) were mixed.
UNWTO said most destinations in the Americas continued to enjoy positive results. South America (+7%) led the way, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the USA, the region’s largest destination.
Results in the Middle East were mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August.
Among the top ten markets, international tourism expenditure grew fastest in China (+19%), the Republic of Korea (+12%), the USA (+8%) and Canada (+7%). Expenditure from Germany, the UK, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong (China) grew between 3% and 5%, while France reported a modest 1% increase.
UNWTO also noted a significant recovery in demand from the Russian Federation (+27%) and Brazil (+35%) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad.
15 November 2017