Destinations around the world welcomed some 538 million international tourists between January and June 2015, an increase of 21 million compared to the same period of 2014.
Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East all recorded 5% growth in international arrivals and the Americas 4%.
Limited data available for Africa points to an estimated 6% decrease in the number of international tourists in the region.
At the sub-regional level, the Caribbean and Oceania (were up 7%) were the best performers, together with Central and Eastern Europe and Central America (up by 6%).
In spite of this overall growth, results by destination are rather mixed. Safety and security remain a global concern while the economic scenario is comparatively more volatile with the recovery of advanced economies contrasting with the slowdown of emerging economies. Tourism demand has also been impacted by lower oil prices and currency fluctuations.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai noted, “These results show that, despite increased volatility, tourism continues to consolidate the positive performance it has had over the last five years and to provide development and economic opportunities worldwide.”
Rifai said that, “As UNWTO prepares to meet in Medellin, Colombia, for its 21st General Assembly, this is the appropriate moment to call for a stronger support to tourism as the sector has the potential to deliver on some of the most pressing challenges of our time, namely job creation, economic growth and social inclusion.”
According to the UNWTO forecast issued at the beginning of 2015, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by 3% to 4% worldwide for the whole year, in line with the long-term forecast of an average growth of 3.8% a year set for the period 2010 to 2020.