UNWTO: International tourism continued rapid growth in early 2015

UNWTO: International tourism continued rapid growth in early 2015

International tourism demand continued to be robust between January and April 2015 with tourist arrivals increasing four per cent worldwide according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Almost all regions enjoyed strong growth.

Prospects for the May-August period remain upbeat, with close to 500 million tourists expected to travel abroad during these four months.

Destinations worldwide received some 332 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2015, 16 million more than the same period last year.

This result follows an increase of 4.3 per cent in 2014 and consolidates the upwards trend of international tourism in recent years (an increase of 4.5 per cent in international tourist arrivals a year on average since 2010).

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By region, the Americas (up six per cent) led growth, followed by Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, all recording four to five per cent more arrivals.

By subregion, Oceania and South America boasted the strongest increase (both up eight per cent), followed by the Caribbean and Central and Eastern Europe (both up seven per cent), the latter rebounding from last year’s decline.

In Africa, demand weakened in 2014 after years of solid growth, affected mainly by the Ebola outbreak among other challenges.

Limited data currently available for January-April 2015 points to a six per cent decline, as African destinations struggle to recover from the misperceptions affecting the continent.

“It is encouraging to see the tourism sector consolidating its excellent results despite security concerns and unrest in many parts of our world”, said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.

“This underscores that tourism is a surprisingly resilient economic sector which increasingly contributes to development in many countries around the globe.

“For national governments, it is a reminder that tourism can be part of the solution to foster socio-economic development and job creation,” he added.

Close to 500 million tourists are estimated to travel abroad between May and August 2015, the Northern Hemisphere holiday peak season, a total that accounts for some 41 per cent of all international tourist arrivals registered in a year.

According to the latest results of the UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index, prospects for this period continue to be bullish and are the highest for this period since the pre-crisis year 2007.

The sentiment is positive among all regions and areas of activity.