International tourist arrivals grew 6% in 2018,
totalling 1.4 billion according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism
UNWTO’s long-term forecast published
in 2010 predicted the 1.4 billion mark of international tourist
arrivals for 2020. Yet stronger economic growth, more affordable
air travel, technological changes, new businesses models and
greater visa facilitation around the word have accelerated growth
in recent years.
The UNWTO estimates that worldwide international
tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased 6% to 1.4 billion
in 2018, clearly above the 3.7% growth registered in the global
In relative terms, the Middle East (+10%), Africa
(+7%), Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both at +6%) led growth in
2018. Arrivals to the Americas were below the world average (+3%).
“The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the
sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic
growth and development. It is our responsibility to manage it in a
sustainable manner and translate this expansion into real benefits
for all countries, and particularly, to all local communities,
creating opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship and leaving
no one behind,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
“This is why UNWTO is focusing 2019 on education, skills and job
tourist arrivals in Europe reached 713 million in 2018, a notable
6% increase over an exceptionally strong 2017. Growth was driven
by Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+7%), Central and Eastern
Europe (+6%) and Western Europe (+6%). Results in Northern Europe
were flat due to the weakness of arrivals to the United Kingdom.
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) recorded 343 million international
tourist arrivals in 2018. Arrivals in South-East Asia grew 7%,
followed by North-East Asia (+6%) and South Asia (+5%). Oceania
showed more moderate growth at +3%.
The Americas (+3%)
welcomed 217 million international arrivals in 2018, with mixed
results across destinations. Growth was led by North America
(+4%), and followed by South America (+3%), while Central America
and the Caribbean (both -2%) reached very mixed results, the
latter reflecting the impact of the September 2017 hurricanes Irma
Data from Africa points to a 7% increase in 2018
(North Africa at +10% and Sub-Saharan +6%), reaching an estimated
67 million arrivals.
The Middle East (+10%) showed solid
results last year consolidating its 2017 recovery, with
international tourist arrivals reaching 64 million.
current trends, economic prospects and the UNWTO Confidence Index,
UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to grow 3% to 4% next year,
more in line with historic growth trends.