Madrid – The number of global tourists increased 7 % in 2017, the biggest increase in seven years led by Europe with the lure of the Mediterranean’s sea and sun, the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said Monday.
The sharp hike was mostly due to the economic recovery around the world, it added.
International tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1.32 billion, the source pointed out.
This strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4% to 5%.
Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe recorded extraordinary results for such a large and rather mature region, with 8% more international arrivals than in 2016. Africa consolidated its 2016 rebound with an 8% increase. Asia and the Pacific recorded 6% growth, the Middle East 5% and the Americas 3%.
2017 was characterized by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years, UNWTO said. Results were partly shaped by the global economic upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging source markets, particularly a rebound in tourism spending from Brazil and the Russian Federation after a few years of declines.
‘International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development. As the third export sector in the world, tourism is essential for job creation and the prosperity of communities around the world,’ UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said. ‘Yet as we continue to grow, we must work closer together to ensure this growth benefits every member of every host community, and is in line with the [UNWTO’s] “Sustainable Development Goals.”‘
International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 671 million in 2017, a remarkable 8% increase following a comparatively weaker 2016. Growth was driven by the extraordinary results in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe (+7%). Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded robust growth.
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) recorded 324 million international tourist arrivals in 2017. Arrivals in South Asia grew 10%, in Southeast Asia 8% and in Oceania 7%. Arrivals to Northeast Asia increased by 3%.
The Americas (+3%) welcomed 207 million international tourist arrivals in 2017, with most destinations enjoying positive results. South America (+7%) led growth, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%), with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrasted with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination.
Based on available data for Africa, growth in 2017 is estimated at 8%. The region consolidated its 2016 rebound and reached a record 62 million international arrivals. North Africa posted a strong recovery with arrivals growing by 13%, while in sub-Saharan Africa arrivals increased by 5%.
The Middle East (+5%) received 58 million international tourist arrivals in 2017 with sustained growth in some destinations and a strong recovery in others.