International tourist arrivals reached 1,138 million in 2014, up 51 million, or 4.7%, over 20134, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
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.