UNWTO Reports International Tourism Demand Exceeds Expectations
By Matt Alderton
August 28, 2013
Compared to the same period in 2012, international tourist arrivals grew 5 percent in the first half of 2013, reaching nearly 500 million, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which says the number exceeds projections of 3 percent to 4 percent growth made at the beginning of the year.
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UNWTO’s latest “UNWTO World Tourism Barometer” shows that destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of this year. That’s 25 million more overnight visitors than the first six months of 2012.
Growth was especially strong in emerging economies, up 6 percent compared to 4 percent in advanced economies. In Central and Eastern Europe, for instance, international tourist arrivals were up 10 percent; in Southeast Asia they were up 12 percent; and in the Middle East they were up 13 percent. On the other hand, they were up just 2 percent in the Americas.
In terms of outbound travel, China and Russia are leaders, with 31 percent and 22 percent growth, respectively, in international travel expenditures during the first half of 2013. Spending from traditional markets was more “modest,” UNWTO points out, growing just 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in Canada and France, with flat growth in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, and negative growth in Japan, Australia and Italy.
“The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that traveling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a statement. “This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs.”
UNWTO expects growth to continue in the second half of 2013, but at a “gradually slower pace” of 4 percent.