Some 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded globally by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in 2019 – a new record.
According to the first comprehensive report on global tourism numbers and trends of the new decade, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, this represents the tenth consecutive year of growth.
The figure is a four per cent increase on the number from 2018, with similar growth expected in 2020.
All regions saw a rise in international arrivals in 2019.
However, uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions and the global economic slowdown all contributed to a slower growth in 2019, when compared to the exceptional rates of 2017 and 2018.
This slowdown affected mainly advanced economies and particularly Europe and Asia and the Pacific.
Looking ahead, growth of three to four per cent is predicted for 2020, an outlook reflected in the latest UNWTO Confidence Index which shows a cautious optimism: 47 per cent of participants believe tourism will perform better and 43 per cent at the same level of 2019.
Major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, and cultural events, such as Expo 2020 Dubai, are expected to have a positive impact on the sector.
Presenting the results, UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili stressed “in these times of uncertainty and volatility, tourism remains a reliable economic sector”.
Against the backdrop of recently downgraded global economic perspectives, international trade tensions, social unrest and geopolitical uncertainty, “our sector keeps outpacing the world economy and calling upon us to not only grow but to grow better”.