International tourism exceeds expectations, with APAC leading growth

International travel saw strongest growth in seven years
International travel saw strongest growth in seven years

International tourist arrivals grew six per cent in the first four months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, exceeding UNWTO’s forecast for 2018.

Growth was seen in all regions, led by Asia-Pacific (+8%) and Europe (+7%). Africa (+6%), the Middle East (+4%) and the Americas (+3%) also recorded sound results. Earlier this year, UNWTO’s forecast for 2018 was between 4-5%.

Growth in Asia-Pacific was driven by South-east Asia (+10%) and South Asia (+9%), while the increase in Europe was pulled ahead by the destinations of Southern and Mediterranean Europe, as well as Western Europe (both +8%).

In the Americas, strongest results came from South America (+8%). The Caribbean (-9%) is the only sub-region to experience a decrease in arrivals during this period, weighed down by some destinations still struggling with the aftermath of the hurricanes of August and September 2017.

UNWTO commented that even with limited information coming from the Middle East and Africa, the results were signs of rebound in the former region and consolidation of growth in the latter.

“International tourism continues to show significant growth worldwide, and this translates into job creation in many economies. This growth reminds us of the need to increase our capacity to develop and manage tourism in a sustainable way, building smart destinations and making the most of technology and innovation”, said UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili.

Meanwhile, confidence in global tourism remains strong according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts survey. The panel’s outlook for the May-August period is one the most optimistic in a decade, led by particularly upbeat sentiment in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

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