International tourist arrivals worldwide grew by four percent between January and June 2016 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released on Thursday. Destinations worldwide received 561 million international tourists (overnight visitors), 21 million more than in 2015.
According to the data, Asia and the Pacific demonstrated renewed strength this first half of 2016, receiving nine percent more international arrivals, the highest growth across world regions. In the Americas, international arrivals increased by four percent, led by Central America and South America.
International tourist arrivals to Europe grew by three percent between January and June 2016 and showed mixed results across destinations, with solid growth in many destinations offset by weaker performance in others. Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe both recorded five percent more international arrivals. Though many destinations posted positive results, growth in both Western Europe (one percent rise) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (two percent rise) was slow.
In Africa, Sub-Saharan destinations rebounded strongly, while North Africa continued to report weak results. Limited data for the Middle East points to an estimated decrease of nine percent in international arrivals this six-month period, though results vary from destination to destination.
Positive prospects for the second half of the year
The first half of the year typically accounts for around 46 percent of the total international arrivals count of the year. For the remainder of 2016 prospects are positive overall. Confidence is highest in Africa, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific, while experts in Europe and the Middle East are somewhat more cautious.
Moreover, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer showed that China, the world’s top source market, continued to report double-digit growth in expenditure on international travel (+20% in the first quarter of 2016), benefiting destinations in the region and beyond. The United States, the world’s second largest market, increased expenditure on outbound travel by 8% through July, thanks to a strong currency. Third largest market, Germany, reported a 4% increase in expenditure through July. Other markets that showed robust demand for outbound travel in the first half of 2016 were Spain (+20%), Norway (+11%), Australia (+10%) and Japan (+6%). Meanwhile expenditure from the Russian Federation and Brazil continues to be weak, reflecting the economic constraints and depreciated currencies in both markets.