International tourist arrivals grew by 4.3 percent in the first eight months of 2015, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, fuelled by strong results in Europe and consolidating the trend of recent years.
International tourists (overnight visitors) travelling the world between January and August 2015 reached 810 million, 33 million more than in the same period of 2014.
Europe, the world’s most visited regional destination, recorded a robust 5 percent increase in international tourist arrivals, the highest across all regions and a notable result for a rather mature region.
“The euro area continues to benefit from a weaker currency and a sustained economic recovery”, the UNWTO commented.
Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) rebounded from last year’s decline. Northern Europe (+6%), Southern Mediterranean Europe (+5%) and Western Europe (+4%) all recorded sound results for subregions with many mature destinations. The 28 countries of the European Union (EU-28) boasted 6% more arrivals this period, exceeding the regional average.
Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East all enjoyed 4 percent growth, while limited data available for Africa points to an estimated 5 percent decrease in the number of international tourists.
“We should not be complacent”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“We need to continue advancing fundamental issues such as travel facilitation and connectivity while placing sustainability at the core of our action”, he added.
According to Mr Rifai, as world leaders prepare to meet in Paris next December for the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) and following the approval of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, sustainability must be at the forefront of the tourism agenda.