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Afghanistan: UNWTO: International tourism – strongest half-year results since 2010


Destinations worldwide welcomed 598 million international tourists in the initial six months of 2017, some 36 million additional than in the same period of 2016. At 6%, increase was well above the trend of recent years, making the current January-June period the strongest half-year since 2010.

Visitor numbers reported by destinations around the world reflect strong request for international travel in the initial half of 2017, according to the new UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Worldwide, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 6% compared to the same six-month period last year, well above the sustained and consistent trend of 4% or higher increase since 2010. This represents the strongest half-year in seven years.

Results are underpinned by robust increase in a lot of destinations and a continuation of the recovery in those that suffered declines in previous years. Of UNWTO regions, increase was strongest in the Middle East (+9%), Europe (+8%) and Africa (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%) and the Americas (+3%).

The initial half of the year usually accounts for about 46% of total annual international arrivals, with the second half longer by three days and inclunding the Northern Hemisphere high season months of July and August. Increase was strongest in the Middle East (+9%), Europe (+8%) and Africa (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%) and the Americas (+3%).

“The initial half of 2017 shows healthy increase in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, inclunding a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai ahead of the 22nd session of the UNWTO General Assembly, to be held in Chengdu, China on 13-16 September 2017.

“As explained in my article ‘Tourism: increase is not the enemy; it’s how we manage it that counts’, international travel creates jobs, economic increase and development opportunities for a lot of communities around the world. But this source of prosperity needs to be managed efficiently, for the good of visitors and host communities alike. This year we celebrate the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Improvment(IY2017) to remind destinations and travellers that we must work for a sustainable tourism sector that protects the environment, preserves the cultural heritage of destinations, and fosters respect for local communities everywhere,” Rifai added.

Mediterranean destinations lead growth

Mediterranean destinations reported particularly strong increase in the initial half of 2017, as reflected in the results for Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%), North Africa (+16%) and the Middle East (+9%). This trend is driven by the continued strength of a lot of destinations in the area, combined with a significant rebound in destinations that suffered decreases in previous years, such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.

Furthermore, international tourist arrivals through June grew 8% in Northern Europe, 6% in Western Europe and 4% in Central and Eastern Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 4% additional arrivals.

Results are underpinned by robust increase in a lot of destinations and a continuation of the recovery in those that suffered declines in previous years. South Asia (+12%) led increase in Asia and the Pacific, followed by Oceania (+8%) and South-East Asia (+7%), while results in North-East Asia (+4%) were additional mixed.

The Americas continued to enjoy positive results across most destinations. Increase was solid in South America (+6%), Central America (+5%) and the Caribbean (+4%). In North America (+2%), robust results for Mexico and Canada were half offset by a decrease in arrivals to the United States, the region’s major destination.

Arrivals increase in this period was fuelled by strong outbound request from major source markets. In particular, Canada, China, France, the Republic of Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States continued to statement solid increase in outbound spending. This initial half-year as well saw a strong recovery in request from Brazil and the Russian Federation next a few years of declines in terms of spending abroad.

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