Global tourism hits new high, but US numbers fall

Global tourism hits new high, but US numbers fall

The US suffered a fall in visitor numbers in the first half of this year despite international tourism arrivals across the world rising 6% on 2016.

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported a global surge in international visitors in the six months to June, declaring first-half growth the strongest since 2010 and well above the long-term annual growth rate of 4% in global tourism.

The UNWTO reported the strongest growth in the Middle East (9%), Europe (8%) and Africa (8%), with arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region up 6% year on year and the Americas up 3%

It noted: “The first half of the year usually accounts for about 46% of annual international arrivals, with the second half including the Northern Hemisphere high season.”

UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said: “The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year.”

Destinations around the Mediterranean saw “particularly strong growth”, according to the UNWTO, with visitors to Southern and Mediterranean Europe up 12% year on year, arrivals to North Africa up 16% and to the Middle East up 9%.

The UNWTO reported “a significant rebound in destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia that suffered decreases in previous years”.

Arrival numbers were also up in Northern Europe by 8%, Western Europe by 6% and Central and Eastern Europe by 4%.

South Asia led growth in Asia and the Pacific with a 12% increase in arrivals, followed by Oceania (8%) and South-East Asia (7%). North-East Asia saw a 4% increase, as did sub-Saharan Africa.

South America drew 6% more visitors in the first six months of this than last, Central America 5% and the Caribbean 4%.

But arrivals to North America were up just 2% year on year despite the UNWTO recording “robust results for Mexico and Canada”. This followed a fall in arrivals to the US, according to preliminary figures.

The figures were released ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, China, next week.

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