Madrid : The global tourist arrivals figures for the first six months of 2017 confirm that the sector is set for its eighth year of consecutive solid growth since the economic crisis of 2009. In the first half of 2017, international tourist arrivals worldwide grew by 6 per cent compared to the same period last year.
598 million international tourists, 36 million more than in the same period of 2016, travelled to other countries in the first 6 months of 2017. The figure supposes an increase of 6 per cent compared to the same months of the previous year, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
International arrivals reported by destinations around the world were positive overall, with very few exceptions. Most of 2016's strong performers maintained momentum, while destinations that struggled in previous years continued to rebound in the first part of 2017. This is especially reflected in the better results of the Middle East (+10 per cent), Africa (+8 per cent) and Europe (+8 per cent). Asia and the Pacific (6 per cent) and the Americas (+3 per cent) continued to enjoy robust growth.
"Destinations that were affected by negative events during 2016 are showing clear signs of recovery over a very short period of time. This is very welcoming news for all, but particularly for those whose livelihoods depend on tourism in these destinations," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
International arrivals in Europe (+8 per cent) rebounded in January-June after mixed results last year. Confidence returned to some destinations that were impacted by security incidents, while others continued to grow strongly. Results improved particularly in Southern Mediterranean Europe (+12 per cent as compared to +1 per cent in 2016) and Western Europe (+6 per cent as opposed to +0 per cent in 2016). Northern Europe (+8 per cent) continued to record strong growth, while Central and Eastern Europe recorded 2 per cent more international arrivals, in line with results of last year.
In Asia and the Pacific, international arrivals were up 6 per cent through June with sound results across all four sub regions. South Asia (+12 per cent) led growth, followed by Oceania (+8 per cent), South-East Asia (+7 per cent) and North-East Asia (+4 per cent). International arrivals in the Americas were up 3 per cent with strong results in South America and Central America (both +7 per cent), while arrivals in North America grew by 2 per cent and in the Caribbean by 2 per cent.
Limited data available for Africa points to an 8 per cent increase in international arrivals, with North Africa (+17 per cent) recovering strongly. International arrivals in the Middle East rebounded by an estimated 10 per cent following a 3 per cent decline in 2016.