International tourist arrivals grew 6% in the first four months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, not only continuing the strong 2017 trend, but exceeding UNWTO’s forecast for 2018.
Growth was led by Asia and the Pacific (+8%) and Europe (+7%). Africa (+6%), the Middle East (+4%) and the Americas (+3%) also recorded sound results. Earlier this year, UNWTO’s forecast for 2018 was between 4–5%.
“International tourism continues to show significant growth worldwide, and this translates into job creation in many economies. This growth reminds us of the need to increase our capacity to develop and manage tourism in a sustainable way, building smart destinations and making the most of technology and innovation”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
Asia and Europe led growth at the start of 2018
From January to April 2018, international arrivals increased in all regions, led by Asia and the Pacific (+8%), with South-East Asia (+10%) and South Asia (+9%) driving results.
The world’s largest tourism region, Europe also performed strongly during this four-month period (+7%), pulled ahead by the destinations of Southern and Mediterranean Europe, and Western Europe (both +8%).
Growth in the Americas is estimated at 3%, with strongest results in South America (+8%). The Caribbean (-9%) is the only sub-region to experience a decrease in arrivals during this period, weighed down by some destinations still struggling with the aftermath of the hurricanes of August and September 2017.
The limited information coming from Africa and the Middle East points to 6% and 4% growth, respectively, confirming the rebound of Middle East destinations and the consolidation of the growth in Africa.
Confidence in global tourism remains strong according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts survey. The Panel’s outlook for the May-August period is one the most optimistic in a decade, led by the particularly upbeat sentiment in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Experts’ evaluation of tourism performance in the first four months of 2018 was also robust, in line with the strong results recorded in many destinations around the world.