Despite some tragic events around the world, 2016 is off to a strong start for international tourism.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew by 5% between January and April 2016. Results were robust across almost all sub-regions and many destinations reported double-digit growth. Prospects for May-August remain positive, with around 500 million tourists expected to travel abroad in the Northern Hemisphere summer holiday peak season.
Destinations worldwide received 348 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2016, some 18 million more than the same period last year (+5.3%). This follows an increase of 4.6% in 2015, and could make 2016 the seventh consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4% or more every year following the crisis in 2009.
“Results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Destinations keep benefiting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector.
“Yet, despite these good results, the tragic events of recent months remind us that safety and security remain a major challenge for all. We must continue to work closely together to address this global threat and ensure tourism is an integral part of emergency planning and response at global, regional and national level,” added Rifai.
By region, Asia and the Pacific (+9%) recorded the highest increase in international arrivals, with all Asian sub-regions enjoying growth of 7% or above.
UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3.5% to 4.5% over the full year 2016, in line with UNWTO’s long-term projection of 3.8% growth a year for the period 2010 to 2020.
In the Americas (+6%), all four sub-regions continued to enjoy significant growth in the first four months of 2016, led by Central America and South America (both at +7%). Arrivals in the Caribbean (+6%) and North America (+5%) were fuelled by continued strong outbound demand from the United States, where tourism expenditure increased by 9% through May.
Europe (+4%), the world’s most visited region, consolidated its healthy growth of recent years with Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both at +6%) in the lead, followed by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+4%) and Western Europe (+3%).