UNWTO Barometer: Global tourism on the rises

MADRID, 9 November 2017: Where are the fastest growing markets for international tourism expenditure?

The latest UNWTO global tourism data released, earlier this week to coincide with the World Travel Market, identifies the markets that are growing the fastest in terms of cash spent on booking travel.

The UNWTO Tourism Barometer claims among the top 10 source markets, international tourism expenditure grew the fastest in China (+19%) followed by the Republic of Korea (+12%), the United States (+8%) and Canada (+7%).

If the China source market maintains double digit growth annually in tourism expenditure it will ultimately overtake the US as the top tourism receipts provider within a decade.

Expenditure from Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong (China) grew between 3% and 5%, while France reported a modest 1% increase.

Worth noting, beyond the top 10 source markets there was a significant recovery in travel spend from the Russian Federation (+27%) and Brazil (+35%) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad.

Demand for international tourism remained strong during the northern hemisphere summer peak season. International tourist arrivals in July and August totalled over 300 million for the first time ever. Many destinations reported double-digit growth, in particular in the Mediterranean.

Between January and August 2017, worldwide destinations  welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visits), 56 million more than in the same period of 2016.

This corresponds to a robust 7% increase, well above the growth of previous years. With upbeat prospects for the remaining months of the year, 2017 is set to be the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism.

Results reflect the sustained growth in many destinations combined with the recovery of those suffering from security challenges in recent years.

By UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in Africa (+9%) and Europe (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), the Middle East (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).

Prospects for the last four months of 2017 remain also buoyant according to the experts consulted.

“Tourism is a major economic engine and employment generator, contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of millions of people around the world” stated UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in London, ahead of the World Travel Market.

“As we draw to the end of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we must reflect on how to manage tourism in a responsible and sustainable way beyond 2017. Maximising the social and economic benefits of tourism while minimising any negative impacts on host communities and the environment should remain at the forefront of our efforts in the years to come, with policy-makers, companies and travelers all contributing to this shared objective,” Rifai added.

Regional Results

In Europe (+8%), international arrivals rebounded in both southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%) and western Europe (+7%) following a weak 2016. Arrivals grew by 6% in northern Europe and by 4% in central and eastern Europe between January and August 2017.

Africa (+9%) recorded the fastest growth of all five regions, thanks to the strong rebound in North Africa (+15%) and the sound results of Sub-Saharan Africa (+5%).

South Asia (+10%) led growth in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), followed by Southeast Asia (+8%) and Oceania (+7%), while results in Northeast Asia (+3%) were rather mixed.

Most destinations in the Americas (+3%) continued to enjoy positive results, led by South America (+7%), followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination.

Results in the Middle East (5%) were mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August.