Global tourism marks 5% growth between Jan-April

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July 20, 2016 3:53 PM

International tourist arrivals have grown by five per cent between January and April 2016, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer

International tourist arrivals have grown by five per cent between January and April 2016, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Robust results have been racorded across almost all subregions and many destinations reported double-digit growth. Prospects for May-August also remain positive, with around 500 million tourists expected to travel abroad in the Northern Hemisphere summer holiday peak season.

Destinations worldwide received 348 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2016, around 18 million more than the same period last year, marking a growth of 5.3 per cent. This follows an increase of 4.6 per cent in 2015, and could make 2016 the seventh consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by four per cent or more every year following the crisis in 2009.

“Results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth. Destinations keep benefitting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector. Yet, despite these good results, the tragic events of recent months remind us that safety and security remain a major challenge for all. We must continue to work closely together to address this global threat and ensure tourism is an integral part of emergency planning and response at global, regional and national level,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO.

By region, Asia Pacific recorded the highest – nine per cent – increase in international arrivals, with all Asian subregions enjoying growth of seven per cent or above. By subregion, Subsaharan Africa led growth with 13 per cent, rebounding from previous years’ results.

UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent over the full year 2016, in line with UNWTO’s long-term projection of 3.8 per cent growth a year for 2010 to 2020 period.

Results by region

South East Asia and Oceania, both achieved 10 per cent growth, while arrivals in North East Asia increased by eight per cent and in South Asia by seven per cent.

In Africa (up seven per cent), international tourist arrivals experienced rebound in Subsaharan Africa with 13 per cent growth, while in North Africa results were down by wight per cent.

In the Americas (up six per cent), all four subregions continued to enjoy significant growth in the first four months of 2016, led by Central America and South America (both at seven per cent). Arrivals in the Caribbean (up six per cent) and North America (five per cent) were fuelled by continued outbound demand from the United States, where tourism expenditure increased by nine per cent through May.

Europe (up four per cent), the world’s most visited region, consolidated its growth of recent years with Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both at six per cent) in the lead, followed by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (four per cent) and Western Europe (three per cent).

International tourist arrivals in the Middle East are estimated to have declined by seven per cent through April, according to available information. Results for both Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution, as they are based on currently limited data available for these regions.

Prospects remain positive

UNWTO estimates that around 500 million tourists will travel internationally between May and August 2016, the Northern Hemisphere summer holiday peak season, accounting for about 41 per cent of the year’s total international tourist arrivals.

According to the UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index, prospects for May-August 2016 remain positive and in line with the performance of January-April. The index shows confidence is highest in Europe, followed by the Americas.

On the positive side, Brazil is looking forward to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. A downside is that security concerns remain high on the agenda. Furthermore, the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union in the recent referendum (‘Brexit’) has raised uncertainty in the market and led to a substantial depreciation of the UK pound sterling. However, UNWTO does not expect this to have a significant impact on international travel in the short term.

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