MADRID — Demand for international tourism remained strong during the Northern Hemisphere summer peak season, with international tourist arrivals in July and August exceeding the 300 million mark for the first time ever, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Many destinations reported double-digit growth, in particular in the Mediterranean.
Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), 56 million more than in the same period of 2016, an increase of 7%.
With upbeat prospects for the remaining months of the year, 2017 is set to be the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism, says the UNWTO.
Results reflect the sustained growth in many destinations combined with the recovery of those suffering from security challenges in recent years.
By UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in Africa (+9%) and Europe (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), the Middle East (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).
“Tourism is a major economic engine and employment generator, contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of millions of people around the world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in London, ahead of World Travel Market 2017 now underway.
In Europe (+8%), international arrivals rebounded in both Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%) and Western Europe (+7%) following a weak 2016. Arrivals grew by 6% in Northern Europe and by 4% in Central and Eastern Europe between January and August 2017.
Africa (+9%) recorded the fastest growth of all five regions, thanks to the strong rebound in North Africa (+15%) and the sound results of Sub-Saharan Africa (+5%).
South Asia (+10%) led growth in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), followed by South-East Asia (+8%) and Oceania (+7%), while results in North-East Asia (+3%) were rather mixed.
Most destinations in the Americas (+3%) continued to enjoy positive results, led by South America (+7%), followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrast with a decrease in the U.S.
Results in the Middle East (5%) are mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August.
Inbound visitor growth across world destinations was fuelled by strong outbound demand from the majority of source markets.
Among the top 10 markets, international tourism expenditure grew fastest in China (+19%), the Republic of Korea (+12%), the U.S. (+8%) and Canada (+7%).
Expenditure from Germany, the UK, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong (China) grew between 3% and 5%, while France reported a modest 1% increase.
Worth noting beyond the top 10 source markets is the significant recovery in demand from the Russian Federation (+27%) and Brazil (+35%) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad, says the UNWTO.