Madrid : International tourist arrivals grew by 3.9 percent to reach a total of 1,235 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Some 46 million more tourists (overnight visitors) travelled internationally last year compared to 2015.
2016 was the seventh consecutive year of sustained growth following the 2009 global economic and financial crisis. As a result, 300 million more international tourists travelled the world in 2016 as compared to the pre-crisis record in 2008. International tourism receipts grew at a similar pace in this period.
“Tourism has shown extraordinary strength and resilience in recent years, despite many challenges, particularly those related to safety and security. Yet, international travel continues to grow strongly and contribute to job creation and the wellbeing of communities around the world”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
Recalling that 2017 has been designated by the United Nations the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, Mr. Rifai said “we need to work closer together to harness the contribution of tourism to economic growth, social inclusion, cultural and environmental preservation and mutual understanding, particularly when we live in times with such a deficit of respect and tolerance”.
Based on current trends, the outlook of the UNWTO Panel of Experts and economic prospects, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals worldwide to grow at a rate of 3% to 4% in 2017. Europe is expected to grow at 2% to 3%, Asia and the Pacific and Africa both at 5% to 6%, the Americas at 4% to 5% and the Middle East at 2% to 5%, given the higher volatility in the region according to UNWTO.
2016 Regional Results
Results in Europe were rather mixed with a number of destinations affected by safety and security challenges. International arrivals reached 620 million in 2016, or 12 million (+2%) more than in 2015. Northern Europe (+6%) and Central Europe (+4%) both recorded sound results, while in Southern Mediterranean Europe arrivals grew by 1% and in Western Europe results were flat.
Asia and the Pacific (+8%) led growth across regions in both relative and absolute terms, recording 24 million more international tourist arrivals in 2016 to total 303 million. Growth was strong in all four subregions, with Oceania receiving 10% more arrivals, South Asia 9% more and North-East Asia and South-East Asia both 8% more.
International tourist arrivals in the Americas(+4%) increased by 8 million to reach 201 million, consolidating the solid results recorded in the last two years. Growth was somewhat stronger in South America and Central America (both +6%), while the Caribbean and North America recorded around 4% more arrivals.
Available data for Africa points to an 8% rebound in international arrivals in 2016 after two troubled years, adding 4 million arrivals to reach 58 million. Sub-Saharan Africa (+11%) led growth, while a gradual recovery started in North Africa (+3%).
The Middle East received 54 million international tourist arrivals in 2016. Arrivals decreased an estimated 4% with mixed results among the region’s destinations. Results for both Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution as they are based on limited available data.
January 17 , 2017