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International tourism numbers see slower growth in Q1

Latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer from the World Tourism Organisation shows that international tourism continued to grow over the first quarter of 2019. Though at a slower rate when compared with the last two years, the 4 percent increase registered in early 2019 is a very positive sign.

The Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%) experienced the highest increase in international arrivals. Numbers in both Europe and Africa were up by 4 percent, and in the Americas growth was recorded at 3 percent.

According to Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary-general, “International tourism continues to perform strongly worldwide fuelled by a positive economy, increased air capacity and visa facilitation.”

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Zurab says, “Growth in arrivals is easing slightly after two years of exceptional results, but the sector continues to outpace the global rate of economic growth.”

Europe, the world’s largest tourism region, reported solid growth (+4%), led by destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%).

Growth in Africa was driven by ongoing recovery in North Africa (+11%). In the Americas, the Caribbean (+17%) rebounded strongly after weak results in 2018, following the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017.

In Asia and the Pacific, results for the first three months showed a 6 percent increase led by North-East Asia (+9%) and a very solid performance from the Chinese market.

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Zurab stresses, “With this growth comes greater responsibility for translating it into better jobs and better lives.

“We need to continue investing in innovation, digital transformation and education so that we can harness the many benefits tourism can bring while at the same time mitigating its impact on the environment and society with a better management of tourism flows.”

However, UNWTO Confidence Index Panel is optimistic over future growth. Confidence in global tourism has started to pick up again after slowing down at the end of 2018, according to the latest UNWTO Confidence Index survey.

The outlook for the May-August 2019 period, the peak season for many destinations in the Northern hemisphere, is more optimistic than in the recent periods and more than half of respondents are expecting a better performance in the coming four months.

Experts’ evaluation of tourism performance in the first four months of 2019 was also rather positive and in line with the expectations expressed at the beginning of that period.

UNWTO forecasts growth of 3 percent to 4 percent in international tourist arrivals in 2019.

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