International tourism hits new record in H1
Madrid, September 8, 2011
International tourism grew by almost five per cent in the first half of 2011 totalling a new record of 440 million arrivals, 19 million more than in the same period of 2010, the World Tourism Organization said.
The figures confirm that, despite multiple challenges, global tourism continues to consolidate the 6.6 per cent increase registered in 2010, the UN agency added.
Growth in advanced economies (+4.3 per cent) has maintained strength and is closing the gap with emerging economies (+4.8 per cent), which have been driving international tourism growth in recent years, the report said.
This trend reflects the decreases registered in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a slight slowdown in the growth of some Asian destinations following a very strong 2010.
“The sustained growth registered in tourism demand in such challenging times clearly makes the case for the sector and reinforces our call to consider tourism as a priority in national policies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“Tourism can play a key role in terms of economic growth and development, particularly at a moment when many economies, for the most part in Europe and North America, struggle for recovery and job creation.”
Results were better than expected in Europe (+6 per cent), boosted by the recovery of Northern Europe (+7 per cent) and Central and Eastern Europe (+9 per cent), and the temporary redistribution of travel to destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+7 per cent) due to developments in North Africa (-13 per cent) and the Middle East (-11 per cent).
Sub-Saharan Africa (+9 per cent) continued to perform soundly.
The Americas (+6 per cent) was slightly above the world average, with remarkably strong results for South America (+15 per cent). Asia and the Pacific grew at a comparatively slower pace of 5 per cent, but this more than consolidates its 13 per cent bumper growth of 2010.
Results from recent months show that destinations such as Egypt, Tunisia or Japan are seeing declines in demand clearly reverting.
“We are very encouraged to see demand picking up in such important tourism destinations and call for continued support to these countries which are today fully ready to receive travellers from all over the world,” added Rifai.
So far, the growth of international tourism arrivals is very much in line with the initial forecast issued by UNWTO at the beginning of 2011, 4 per cent to 5 per cent, for the full year 2011, a rate slightly above the 4 per cent long-term average.
As international tourism receipts were more affected by the 2008-2009 crisis and recovered somewhat slower than arrivals in 2010, this year should also see their further improvement.
Following an encouraging first half of 2011, growth in the remainder of the year is expected to soften somewhat as recent months have brought increased uncertainty, hampering business and consumer confidence.
“We must remain cautious as the global economy is showing signs of increased volatility,” said Rifai.
“Many advanced economies still face risks posed by weak growth, fiscal problems and persistently high unemployment. Simultaneously, signs of overheating have become apparent in some emerging economies. Restoring sustained and balanced economic growth remains a major task,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service