Destinations around the world welcomed 956 million international tourists between January and September 2016, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer revealed recently. This is 34 million more than in the same period of 2015, a four percent increase.
According to the UNWTO, demand for international tourism remained robust in the first nine months of 2016, though growing at a somewhat more moderate pace. After a strong start of the year, growth was slower in the second quarter of 2016 to pick up again in the third quarter of the year. While most destinations report encouraging results, others continue to struggle with the impact of negative events, either in their country or in their region.
In regards to Europe, international arrivals grew by two percent between January and September 2016, with solid growth in most destinations. Nonetheless, double-digit increases in major destinations such as Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Ireland were offset by feeble results in France, Belgium and Turkey. As a consequence, Northern Europe grew by six percent and Central and Eastern Europe by five percent while results were weaker in Western Europe (-1 percent) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+0 percent).
“Tourism is one of the most resilient and fastest-growing economic sectors but it is also very sensitive to risks, both actual and perceived. As such, the sector must continue to work together with governments and stakeholders to minimize risks, respond effectively and build confidence among travelers,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“No destination is immune to risks. We need to increase cooperation in addressing these global threats, namely those related to safety and security. And we need to make tourism an integral part of emergency planning and response”, added Mr Rifai.
Mr. Rifai also recalled: “Real crises are often magnified or distorted by misperception and affected destinations are facing important challenges, although at the global level demand remains strong. We need to support these countries in restoring confidence, as doing so will benefit the entire tourism sector and society as a whole.”