Destinations worldwide welcomed 5.3 per cent more international tourists during the first four months of the year than for the same period last year. This is according to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in its World Tourism Barometer. A total of 348 million international tourists made trips during this time.
There is no sign of a crisis in the global holiday sector. Last year, international tourist arrivals – defined as visitors who spend at least one night at their destination – grew by 4.6 per cent worldwide. Yearly increases of at least 4 per cent have been recorded since 2009.
“Results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth. Destinations keep benefiting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector,” said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai. The upward trend looks set to continue for the rest of the year, with a forecast 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals.
Asia and the Pacific saw a 9 per cent growth since the beginning of the year, with expansion of around 7 per cent for all Asian sub-regions. South-east Asia, driven by the popularity of Thailand, both welcomed 10 per cent more international tourists. Over the Atlantic, Central and South America lead the way, each with a 7 per cent rise. Africa takes second place, with arrivals up by 7 per cent.
This is mainly buoyed by a rebound in visitors to Sub-Saharan Africa (13 per cent rise). In contrast, North Africa continues to suffer the effects of the current geopolitical situation, recording an 8 per cent drop in numbers.
Europe is still the world’s most visited region, according to UNWTO’s data. Despite the heightened terror threat, Europe