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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

International Tourist Arrivals Reach All-Time High


International tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1,322 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

This strong momentum in international tourism is expected to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4%-5%.

International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 671 million in 2017, a remarkable 8% increase following a comparatively weaker 2016. Growth was driven by the extraordinary results in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe (+7%), Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded robust growth.

Asia and the Pacific (+6%) recorded 324 million international tourist arrivals in 2017. Arrivals in South Asia grew 10%, in South-East Asia 8% and in Oceania 7%. Arrivals to North-East Asia increased by 3%.

The Americas (+3%) welcomed 207 million international tourist arrivals in 2017, with most destinations enjoying positive results.

South America (+7%) led growth, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%), with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination.

Based on available data for Africa, growth in 2017 is estimated at 8%. The region consolidated its 2016 rebound and reached a record 62 million international arrivals. North Africa enjoyed a strong recovery with arrivals growing by 13%, while in Sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by 5%.

The Middle East (+5%) received 58 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 with sustained growth in some destinations and a strong recovery in others.

The current strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018, though at a more sustainable pace after eight years of steady expansion following the 2009 economic and financial crisis.

Based on current trends, economic prospects and the outlook by the UNWTO Panel of Experts, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals worldwide to grow at a rate of 4%-5% in 2018.

This is somewhat above the 3.8% 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%, Asia and the Pacific by 5%-6%, Africa by 5%-7% and the Middle East by 4%-6%.

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