The world’s tourism leaders are meeting in St Petersburg for the UNWTO General Assembly this week as the global tourism sector continues to grow in both size and influence. New data from UNWTO shows international tourist arrivals grew by 4% during first 6 months of the year.
On the eve of the 23rd Session of the General Assembly, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer was officially released, showing rising arrival numbers across the world. According to this latest research, international tourist arrivals grew by 4% between January and June 2019 compared to the same period last year. Destinations worldwide received 671 million international tourist arrivals over these six months about 29 million more than in the same period of 2018. This represents a continuation of the 5% growth recorded last year, though more in line with historical trends.
Breaking the figures down by region, the new Barometer shows that growth was led by the Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%). International arrivals in Europe grew 4%, while Africa (+3%) and the Americas (+2%) enjoyed more moderate growth.
More specifically, Europe grew 4% in the first six months of 2019 after a remarkable 6% increase in 2018 and 9% in 2017. A positive first quarter was followed by an above-average second quarter with strong months of April (+8%) and June (+6%), reflecting a busy Easter and start of the summer season in the world’s most visited region. Intraregional demand fuelled much of this growth, though performance among major European source markets was uneven, amid weakening economies. Demand from overseas markets such as the USA, China, Japan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries also contributed to these positive results.
Expanding on the figures, the Barometer notes that strong economies, more affordable air travel, increased air connectivity and better visa facilitation continue to drive demand for travel abroad. At the same time, however, short term outlook remains cautious according to the UNWTO Confidence Index. Indeed, weaker economic indicators, the prolonged uncertainty about Brexit, trade and technological tensions, rising geopolitical tensions, may take a toll on business and consumer confidence.
Photography: Andrey Ivanov / TOHOLOGY Production
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1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2019, globally. A 4% increase on the previous year which is also forecast for 2020, confirming tourism as a leading and resilient economic sector