Destinations worldwide welcomed a total of 1.322 billion travelers in 2017, as international tourist arrivals increased “by a remarkable 7 percent“, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced on Monday.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which was presented in Madrid, this is well above the sustained and consistent trend of 4 percent or higher growth since 2010 and represents the strongest results in seven years.
“International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development. As we continue to grow we must work closer together to ensure this growth benefits every member of every host community, and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe recorded extraordinary results with 8 percent more international arrivals than in 2016. Africa consolidated its 2016 rebound with an 8 percent increase. Asia and the Pacific recorded 6 percent growth, the Middle East 5 percent and the Americas 3 percent.
2017 was characterized by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years. Results were partly shaped by the global economic upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging source markets.
The current strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018. Based on current trends, economic prospects and the outlook by the UNWTO Panel of Experts, international tourist arrivals worldwide are expected to grow at a rate of 4-5 percent in 2018. This is somewhat above the 3.8 percent average increase projected for the period 2010-2020 by UNWTO in its Tourism Towards 2030 long-term forecast.
Europe and the Americas are both expected to grow by 3.5-4.5 percent, Asia and the Pacific by 5-6 percent, Africa by 5-7 percent and the Middle East by 4-6 percent.