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International tourism numbers and confidence on the rise ... UNWTO

Published:Wednesday | May 29, 2019 | 12:27 AM

The latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer from the World Tourism Organization shows that international tourism continued to grow over the first quarter of 2019.

Though at a slower rate when compared with the last two years, the four per cent increase registered in early 2019 is a very positive sign. The Middle East (+8 per cent) and Asia and the Pacific (+6 per cent) experienced the highest increase in international arrivals.

Numbers in both Europe and Africa were up by four per cent, and in the Americas, growth was recorded at three per cent.

“International tourism ­continues to perform strongly worldwide fuelled by a positive economy, increased air capacity, and visa facilitation,” says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“Growth in arrivals is easing slightly after two years of ­exceptional results, but the sector continues to outpace the global rate of economic growth.”

Europe, the world’s largest ­tourism region, reported solid growth (+4 per cent), led by destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5 per cent). Growth in Africa was driven by the ­ongoing recovery in North Africa (+11 per cent). In the Americas, the Caribbean (+17 per cent) ­rebounded strongly after weak ­results in 2018, following the impact of ­hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017.

In Asia and the Pacific, results for the first three months showed a six per cent increase led by North-East Asia (+9 per cent) and a very solid performance from the Chinese market.

“With this growth comes greater responsibility for translating it into better jobs and better lives”, Pololikashvili stresses. “We need to continue investing in innovation, digital transformation, and education so that we can harness the many benefits tourism can bring while at the same time mitigating its impact on the environment and society with better management of tourism flows.”

UNWTO Confidence Index Panel ­optimistic over future growth

Confidence in global tourism has started to pick up again after slowing down at the end of 2018, according to the latest UNWTO Confidence Index survey. The outlook for the May-August 2019 period, the peak season for many destinations in the Northern Hemisphere, is more optimistic than in the recent periods and more than half of respondents are expecting a better performance in the coming four months.

Experts’ evaluation of tourism performance in the first four months of 2019 was also rather positive and in line with the expectations expressed at the beginning of that period.

UNWTO forecasts growth of three per cent to four per cent in ­international tourist arrivals in 2019.