Destinations worldwide received some 332 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2015, 16 million more than the same period last year, corresponding to an increase of four per cent.
This result follows an increase of 4.3 per cent in 2014 and consolidates the upwards trend of international tourism in recent years (+4.5 per cent international tourist arrivals a year on average since 2010. By region, the Americas (+6 per cent) led growth, followed by Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, all recording 4 per cent to 5 per cent more arrivals.
By subregion, Oceania and South America boasted the strongest increase (both +8 per cent), followed by the Caribbean and Central and Eastern Europe (both +7 per cent), the latter rebounding from last year’s decline. In Africa, demand weakened in 2014 after years of solid growth, affected mainly by the Ebola outbreak among other challenges.
Limited data currently available for January-April 2015 points to a 6 per cent decline, as African destinations struggle to recover from the misperceptions affecting the continent. “It is encouraging to see the tourism sector consolidating its excellent results despite security concerns and unrest in many parts of our world”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“This underscores that tourism is a surprisingly resilient economic sector which increasingly contributes to development in many countries around the globe. For national governments, it is a reminder that tourism can be part of the solution to foster socio-economic development and job creation”, he added.
Strong results across many destinations with a rebound in Central and Eastern Europe In the Americas (+6 per cent) all four subregions continued to enjoy significant growth in January-April 2015, led by South America (+8 per cent) and the Caribbean (+7 per cent). Strong outbound demand from the United States fuelled results as 20 million US tourists travelled abroad through April, 7 per cent more than during the same period last year.
Asia and the Pacific (+4 per cent) consolidated its growth of recent years, with Oceania (+8 per cent) and North-East Asia (+5 per cent) in the lead. South-East Asia (+3 per cent) recorded moderate results this four-month period as the rebound in Thailand (+25 per cent) was offset by declines in other destinations. Europe, the world’s most visited region, enjoyed continued strength with international tourist arrivals growing by 5 per cent through April.