900 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2017

900 million international tourists in the first eight months of 2017

Demand for international tourism remained strong during the summer peak season. International tourist arrivals in July and August totaled over 300 million for the first time ever according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Many destinations reported double-digit growth, in particular in the Mediterranean. 

Between January and August 2017, destinations worldwide welcomed 901 million international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors), 56 million more than in the same period of 2016. This corresponds to a seven percent 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. 

This strong performance is confirmed by experts from around the world surveyed for the UNWTO Confidence Index, who evaluated the May-August period very positively. Prospects for the last four months of 2017 remain also buoyant according to the experts consulted. UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said: “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. Maximizing the social and economic benefits of tourism while minimizing 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.” 

In Europe, an eight percent growth was recorded. Africa (+ nine percent) recorded the fastest growth of all five regions. Results in the Middle East (+ five percent) are mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August. South Asia (+ 10 percent) led growth in Asia and the Pacific (+six percent), followed by South-East Asia (+ eight percent) and Oceania (+ seven percent), while results in North-East Asia (+ three percent) were rather mixed. Most destinations in the Americas (+ three percent) continued to enjoy positive results, led by South America (+ seven percent), followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both + four percent). In North America (+ two percent), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrast with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination. 

Inbound visitor growth across world destinations was fueled by strong outbound demand from the majority of source markets. Among the top 10 markets, international tourism expenditure grew fastest in China (+ 19 percent), the Republic of Korea (+ 12 percent), the USA (+8 eight percent) and Canada (+ seven percent). 

Expenditure from Germany, the UK, Australia, Italy, and Hong Kong (China) grew between three and five percent, while France reported a modest one percent increase. Worth noting beyond the top 10 source markets is the significant recovery in demand from the Russian Federation (+ 27 percent) and Brazil (+ 35 percent) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad.

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