UNWTO: International Tourist Arrivals Up 4% In 1st Half

Open Jaw

International tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 4% between January and June 2016 compared to the same period last year. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, destinations worldwide received 561 million international tourists (overnight visitors), 21 million more than in 2015.

Asia and the Pacific demonstrated renewed strength, receiving 9% more international arrivals, the highest growth among the regions. In the Americas, international arrivals increased by 4%, led by Central and South America at 6%. Arrivals in both the Caribbean and North America grew by 4%. Europe (+3%) showed mixed results, with solid growth in many destinations offset by weaker performance in others.

In Africa (+5%), Sub-Saharan destinations rebounded strongly, while North Africa continued to languish. Limited data for the Middle East points to an estimated decrease of 9% in international arrivals during the 6 mo. period, though again results vary from destination to destination. 

“Tourism has proven to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide. It is creating jobs for millions, at a time when providing perspectives for a better future to people of all regions is one of our biggest challenges. But tourism is also creating bonds among people of all nations and backgrounds, bringing down stereotypes and fighting fear and distrust”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. 

“Safety and security are key pillars of tourism development and we need to strengthen our common action to build a safe, secure and seamless travel framework.  This is no time to build walls or point fingers,” he said pointedly, “It is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility.”

The 1st half of the year typically accounts for around 46% of the total international arrivals count of the year. For the remainder of 2016 prospects are positive overall. Countries that have already reported results till July or August show continued growth in the current Northern Hemisphere summer peak season.

The UNWTO Panel of Experts also evaluates the May-August period favourably and remains confident about the September-December period.

China, the world’s top source market, continued to report double-digit growth in expenditure on international travel (+20% in the 1st quarter of 2016), benefiting destinations in the region and beyond.

The United States, the world’s 2nd largest market, increased expenditure on outbound travel by 8% through July, thanks to a strong currency. Germany, the 3rd largest market, reported a 4% increase in expenditure through July.

Other markets that are showing robust demand for outbound travel in the 1st half of 2016 were Spain (+20%), Norway (+11%), Australia (+10%) and Japan (+6%). Meanwhile expenditure from the Russian Federation and Brazil continues to be weak, reflecting the economic constraints and depreciated currencies in both markets. 

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