UNWTO: “Best tourism results in many years,” but U.S. decline drags down tourism numbers in North America

newhome-logoDestinations around the world welcomed 1.1 billion international tourists (1,12 m, up +7%) in the January to October 2017 period, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was 70 million more than in the same period of 2016.

The strong tourism demand of the earlier months of 2017, including the Northern Hemisphere summer peak season, was maintained through October.

Strong demand for international tourism across world regions reflects the global economic upswing, says UNWTO.

“These robust results, the best we have seen in many years, reflect the sustained demand for travel around the world, in line with the improved global economy and the rebound of destinations that suffered declines in previous years,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the 2nd UNWTO/ UNESCO Conference on Tourism and Culture, held on December 11- 12 in Oman.

One of the few countries not registering impressive tourism growth is the United States. In North America, robust results in Mexico and Canada contrast with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination, holding growth in North America to only +2%.

South America (+7%) continues to lead growth in the Americas, where arrivals overall increased by 3%. Central America and the Caribbean both grew 4%, with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in October in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.


Regional Results
Europe led growth in international arrivals in the first ten months of 2017 (+8%), driven by remarkable results in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe (+7%) rebounded from weaker results last year, and Northern Europe (+6%) enjoyed solid growth. Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe grew 4% between January and October 2017.


Africa (+8%) was the second fastest-growing region over this period, thanks to a strong recovery in North Africa (+13%) and the sound results of Sub-Saharan Africa (+5%). In North Africa and the Middle East, Egypt, Tunisia and Palestine rebounded strongly from previous years’ declines, while Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman and the United Arab Emirate of Dubai continued to report sustained growth.

In Asia and the Pacific (+5%) results were led by South Asia (+10%), with South-East Asia (+8%) and Oceania (+7%) also enjoying a robust increase in arrivals. North East Asia (+3%) recorded more mixed results, with some 12/19/2017 destinations reporting double-digit increases, and others, declines.

Results in the Middle East (+5%) through October were mixed, with some destinations rebounding strongly and others continuing to report sustained growth, but the regional average was weighed down partly by a few that showed declines.

Strong recovery of outbound tourism demand from Brazil and Russia 
In outbound markets, 2017 is marked by a strong pickup of expenditure on international tourism in Brazil (+33%) and the Russian Federation (+27%) after some years of declines.

Most of the other source markets continued to grow at a sustained pace. Among the top 10 source markets, China (+19%), the Republic of Korea (+11%), the United States and Canada (both +9%), and Italy (+7%) reported the fastest growth in international tourism expenditure. Expenditure from Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong (China) and France grew between 2% and 5%.