This is the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis.
For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourism to grow by 3% to 4%.
The Americas and Europe were top performers, with North America registering the strongest growth in tourism (+8%) for the year, and Europe – with an increase of 22 million arrivals for a total of 588 million – was the most visited region with over half of the world’s international tourists.
By region, the Americas (+7%) and Asia and the Pacific (+5%) registered the strongest growth, while Europe (+4%), the Middle East (+4%) and Africa (+2%) grew at a slightly more modest pace.
By subregion, North America (+8%) saw the best results, followed by North-East Asia, South Asia, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe and the Caribbean, all increasing by 7%.
Positive outlook for 2015
For 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow between 3% and 4%. By region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific (+4% to +5%) and the Americas (+4% to +5%), followed by Europe (+3% to +4%), Africa ( +3% to +5%) and the Middle East (+2% to +5%).
The Americas was the best performing region in relative terms, with growth of 7%, up an additional 13 million international tourists to a total of 181 million. Growth was driven by North America (+8%), with Mexico posting a double-digit increase, and the Caribbean up by +7%. Arrivals to Central America and South America (both +6%) grew at double the rate recorded in 2013 and well above the world average.
Tourism has been a major contributor to the European economic recovery. Northern Europe and Southern and Mediterranean Europe led growth (both +7%); Western Europe was more modest at +2%, and Central and Eastern Europe (0%) stagnated after three years of strong growth.
International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific (+5%) increased by 13 million to 263 million. North-East Asia and South Asia both grew +7%), and Oceania grew by 6%, while growth slowed down in South-East Asia (+2%) compared to previous years.
International tourism in the Middle East (+4%) attracted an additional 2 million arrivals, to 50 million. Africa’s international tourist numbers grew an estimated 2%, to 56 million tourists.