Demand for international tourism remained strong throughout the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Between January and August, the number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5%, driven by strong results in Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. UNWTO’s Panel of Experts confirms this positive trend. Its evaluation of the May-August period shows a significant improvement in confidence, while prospects for the last four months of 2013 remain upbeat.
In the first eight months of the year, international tourist arrivals grew by 5% to reach a record 747 million worldwide, some 38 million more than in the same period of 2012.
After a solid start of the year, demand for international tourism maintained strength throughout the northern hemisphere peak season. The months of June to August have shown sound results – in absolute numbers, international arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time.
“While global economic growth is in low gear, international tourism continues to produce above average results in most world regions, offering vital opportunities for employment and local economies,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai at the opening of the European Tourism Forum in Vilnius. “This is particularly important for Europe, where unemployment is a major concern in many destinations and where the tourism sector has been a source of job growth in the last decade. Furthermore, through its value chain, tourism creates businesses and jobs in many other sectors and produces significant export revenues which contribute favourably to the balance of payments in many countries,” he added.
Growth in tourist numbers
Europe (+5%) benefited the most from the growth of tourism in the first eight months of 2013, with an estimated 20 million more arrivals in the region. Given that Europe is the world’s largest tourism region with many mature destinations, a 5% growth rate is very positive. Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) performed particularly well.
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) continued to show robust growth bolstered by South-East Asia (+12%) adding some