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International Tourism on the rise


Demand for international tourism remained strong during the Northern Hemisphere summer peak season. International tourist arrivals in July and August totalled over 300 million for the first-time ever according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Many destinations reported double-digit growth, in particular in the Mediterranean.

Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), 56 million more than in 2016. This corresponds to a seven percent increase, well above growth of previous years. With upbeat prospects for remaining months of the year, 2017 is set to be the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism.

Results reflect sustained growth in many destinations combined with recovery of those suffering from security challenges in recent years. By UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in Africa at nine percent and Europe at eight percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific at six percent, the Middle East at five percent and the Americas at three percent.

“Tourism is a major economic engine and employment generator, contributing to improvement of livelihoods of millions of people around the world” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. Maximizing the social and economic benefits of tourism while minimizing any negative impacts on host communities and the environment should remain at the forefront of our efforts in years to come, with policy-makers, companies and travellers all contributing to this shared objective,” added Rifai.

Regional Results

In Europe, international arrivals rebounded in both Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%) and Western Europe (+7%) following a weak 2016. Arrivals grew by six percent in Northern Europe and by four percent in Central and Eastern Europe between January and August 2017.

Africa recorded the fastest growth of all five regions, due to the strong rebound in North Africa (+15%) and the sound results of Sub-Saharan Africa at five percent. South Asia which stood at 10 percent led growth in Asia and the Pacific at six percent, followed by South-East Asia at eight percent and Oceania at seven percent, while results in North-East Asia at three percent were rather mixed.

Results in the Middle East are mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August. Strong outbound demand from major source markets, rebound from Russia and Brazil Inbound visitor growth across world destinations was fuelled by strong outbound demand from the majority of source markets.

Among the top 10 markets, international tourism expenditure grew fastest in China (+19%), the Republic of Korea (+12%), the United States (+8%) and Canada at seven percent. Expenditure from Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong (China) grew between three to five percent, while France reported a modest one percent increase. Worth noting beyond the top 10 source markets is the significant recovery in demand from the Russian Federation (+27%) and Brazil (+35%) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad.