International tourists (overnight visitors) traveling the world between January and August 2014 reached 781 million, 36 million more than in the same period of 2013, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
With a five percent increase, international tourism continued to grow well above the long-term trend projected by UNWTO for the period 2010-2020 (+3.8 percent). The peak months of June, July and August, which account for about one third of the total of the year, saw an increase of four percent compared to the same months of 2013.
By region, the strongest growth was registered in the Americas (+8 percent), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+5 percent) and Europe (+4 percent).
Europe, the most visited region in the world, posted four percent growth in international tourist arrivals through August, with strong results in Northern Europe and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+7 percenteach). By contrast, international tourism grew at a more modest pace in Western Europe (+3 percent) and was stagnant in Central and Eastern Europe (-1 percent).
2014 to close above expectations
For the full year 2014, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by four percent to 4.5 percent, slightly above UNWTO’s long-term forecast of 3.8 percentper year for the period 2010 to 2020.
“International tourism continues to grow above expectations despite rising global challenges,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Yet, increasing geopolitical uncertainties and the fact that the global economy shows signs of weaker and uneven growth require our attention,” he added.
Ebola outbreak: Major effect on global tourism not expected
Commenting on the possible impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on tourism, Mr. Rifai said “Although it is too premature to assess the full impact of the outbreak on the tourism sector, at this point we do not expect a major effect on the sector globally.”
He recalled that the 3rd meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee regarding the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 23 October 2014 “reiterated its recommendation that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.”
“Most importantly, we need to urgently step up international efforts to support affected countries to contain the outbreak, ensure that WHO recommendations are implemented and provide, at all moments, transparent and timely information to fight misperception and fear, and minimize the spillover effects to the whole region,” he added.