According to the UNWTO international tourism
continued to show sustained growth, in spite of challenging
economic conditions, during the first two months of 2012.
According to the May issue of the UNWTO
World Tourism Barometer, released in Batumi, Georgia on the
occasion of the 54th UNWTO Commission for Europe, international
tourist arrivals grew by an estimated 5.7% compared to the same
period of 2011.
In Europe (+5%) results were above expectations,
boosted by the strong growth in arrivals to Central and Eastern
Europe (+8%) as well as to destinations of Northern Europe and
Western Europe (both +6%).
Europe’s performance is a continuation
of an already solid 2011, when international arrivals increased by
6% overall to over 500 million. Demand has held up surprisingly
well in the comparatively mature advanced economy destinations of
Northern, Western and parts of Southern and Central Europe,
despite continued concerns about the economy.
“These are welcome results for Europe in a
moment in which countries are looking for sectors that can deliver
on economic growth and job creation,” said UNWTO
Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “We need to work together with
tourism administrations to ensure that governments give priority
to tourism as part of national policies to stimulate growth and
employment. In this respect, the 54th Meeting of UNWTO Commission
for Europe is focusing on levers that can further enhance tourism
development, particularly the crucial issues of visa facilitation,
tourism promotion and branding.”
At the same time, international tourism has been
particular buoyant in many emerging economy destinations in
“Eastern European destinations have strong tourism
potential provided they shape the adequate conditions. Georgia,
this year’s host of the UNWTO Commission for Europe, is a
remarkable example of a destination with a strong commitment
towards tourism development,” added Mr. Rifai. “As a result,
arrivals have almost tripled in the past five years, from just
below a million in 2006 to close to 3 million in 2011, with
international tourism receipts reaching almost US$ 1 billion in
Around the World
In the first months of 2012, growth was positive
in all regions, with the exception of the Middle East (-1%), where
there were nonetheless encouraging signs of recovery, such as in
Egypt (+32% in the first quarter). South-East Asia and South Asia
(both at +10%) led growth by subregion.
Africa was the fastest-growing region with an
increase of over 7% in international tourist arrivals thanks to
continued growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (+7%) and a clear rebound
in North Africa (+8%) as Tunisia (+53% in the first quarter)
started to recover.
Asia and the Pacific saw a 7% increase in
tourist arrivals, led by South Asia and South-East Asia (both
North-East Asia (+6%) recorded higher growth as well, with
arrivals to Japan up by almost 10% in the first quarter.
Americas also reported significant growth (+6%), driven by the
sustained strong demand in South America (+8%) and Central America
Worldwide, international tourist arrivals
surpassed 131 million in the first two months of 2012, up from 124
million in the same period of 2011.
According to the forecast prepared by UNWTO at
the beginning of the year, international tourist arrivals are
projected to increase by some 3% to 4% in 2012.
For the year as a
whole, the number of international tourist arrivals is expected to
reach one billion for the first time.
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