Global international arrivals surpassed 1.1 billion in the first 10 months of the year, setting a new worldwide travel record.
The latest UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer shows a 7% increase in international travellers on last year between January and October 2 – amounting to an additional 70 million arrivals.
The UNWTO said strong growth across the world reflected a global economic upswing.
The number of overnight visitors totalled 1,127 million in the year to October, with destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North Africa and the Middle East showing “extraordinary strength”, according to the UNWTO.
Growth in arrivals exceeded 7% in all destinations of Southern and Mediterranean Europe, “with a rapid recovery seen in Turkey and double-digit increases for most of the region’s other destinations”.
“In North Africa and the Middle East, Egypt, Tunisia and Palestine rebounded strongly from previous years’ declines, while Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman and the UAE continued to report sustained growth.”
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO secretary-general, said: “These robust results, the best we have seen in many years, reflect the sustained demand for travel around the world in line with the improved global economy and the rebound of destinations that suffered declines in previous years.”
He noted: “The strong resilience of tourism [is] reflected in the continuous growth in many destinations of the Middle East and the rapid recovery in others.”
Europe led the growth in international arrivals by region with numbers up of 8% on 2016, driven by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%).
Western Europe saw growth of 7%, Northern Europe 6% and Central and Eastern Europe 4%.
Africa also saw 8% growth, with a strong recovery in North Africa (+13%).
Growth in Asia-Pacific was lower at 5%, but with a 10% increase in arrivals in South Asia, 8% in South-East Asia and 7% in Oceania. North-East Asia saw growth of 3%, with some destinations reporting declines.
South America led the growth in the Americas with a 7% increase in arrivals, Central America and the Caribbean saw 4% growth apiece – the latter despite hurricanes Irma and Maria.
North America saw 2% growth, buoyed by Mexico and Canada. But the US suffered a decrease in arrivals.
Results in the Middle East were mixed despite 5% growth across the region.
Brazil (+33%) and Russia (+27%) enjoyed the strongest growth among outbound markets following several years of decline.
Of the top-10 source markets, China (+19%), South Korea (+11%), the US (+9%), Canada (+9%) and Italy (+7%) reported the fastest growth outbound tourism expenditure.
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