MADRID — International tourism is on the rise, reports UNWTO, with 34 million more international tourists travelling between January and September 2016 over the same period in 2015.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, demand for international tourism remained robust in the first nine months of 2016, though growing at a somewhat more moderate pace. After a strong start of the year, growth was slower in the second quarter, only to pick up again in Q3.
While most destinations report encouraging results, others continue to struggle with the impact of negative events, either in their country or in their region.
“Tourism is one of the most resilient and fastest-growing economic sectors but it is also very sensitive to risks, both actual and perceived. As such, the sector must continue to work together with governments and stakeholders to minimize risks, respond effectively and build confidence among travellers,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
Rifai added that “no destination is immune to risk” and that the travel community needs to “increase cooperation in addressing these global threats,” namely those related to safety and security.
“Real crises are often magnified or distorted by misperception and affected destinations are facing important challenges, although at the global level demand remains strong. We need to support these countries in restoring confidence, as doing so will benefit the entire tourism sector and society as a whole,” he added.
Asia and the Pacific led growth across world regions, with international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) up 9% through September. In Europe, international arrivals grew by 2% between January and September, with solid growth in most destinations. Nonetheless, double-digit increases in major destinations like Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Ireland were offset by feeble results in France, Belgium and Turkey.
International tourist arrivals in the Americas increased by 4% through September, with South America (+7%) and Central America (+6%) leading results. In Africa (+8%), sub-Saharan destinations rebounded strongly throughout the year, while available data for the Middle East points to a 6% decrease in arrivals.