Global tourist numbers for 2018 reach record 1.4b

Tourist arrivals grew six per cent last year to hit 1.4 billion, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.

The new feat came two years ahead of UNWTO’s long-term forecast issued in 2010 that had predicted the 1.4 billion mark would be reached in 2020.

The information, contained in the latest online edition of eTurbo News shows UNWTO, estimates that worldwide international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased six per cent to 1.4 billion last year, above the 3.7 per cent growth registered in the global economy.

In relative terms, the Middle East (+10 per cent), Africa (+7 per cent), Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both at +6 per cent) led in growth in tourist arrivals last year. Arrivals to the Americas were below the world average at +3 per cent.

“The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development. It is our responsibility to manage it in a sustainable manner and translate this expansion into real benefits for all countries,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

Stronger economic growth, more affordable air travel, technological changes, new businesses models and greater visa facilitation around the word have been credited with growth in tourist numbers in recent years.

Data from Africa points to a seven per cent increase (North Africa at +10 per cent and Sub-Saharan +6 per cent), reaching an estimated 67 million arrivals. International tourist arrivals in Europe, on the other hand, reached 713 million in the period under review, a notable six per cent increase over 2017.

Growth was driven by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+7 per cent), Central and Eastern Europe (+6 per cent) and Western Europe (+6 per cent).

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