Recorded international tourist arrivals worldwide was 1.4 billion for 2018 – UNWTO

In 2018 international tourist arrivals grew 6 per cent, totalling 1.4 billion, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. The UNWTO’s long term forecast issued in 2010 indicated the 1.4 billion mark would be reached in 2020, yet the remarkable growth of international arrivals in recent years has brought it two years ahead.

The figures was above the 3.7 per cent growth registered in the global economy.

The Middle East and Africa grew above average of the international tourists arrivals for the year, recording plus 10 per cent and plus 7 per cent respectively, while Asia, the Pacific and Europe also grew at 6 per cent, it said.

Arrivals to the Americas were below the world average of plus 3 per cent, the report indicated.

“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 focussing 2019 on education, skills and job creation,” he added

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 world have accelerated growth in recent years, the report said.

Meanwhile, based on current trends, economic prospects and the UNWTO Confidence Index, UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to grow 3 per cent  to 4 per cent next year, but at the same time, the global economic slowdown, the uncertainty related to Brexit, as well as geopolitical and trade tensions may prompt a “wait and see” attitude among investors and travellers, the report indicated.

But overall, 2019 is expected to see consolidation among consumers of emerging trends such as the quest for ‘travel to change and to show’, ‘the pursuit of healthy options’ such as walking, wellness and sports tourism, ‘multigenerational travel’ as a result of demographic changes and more responsible travel, the report said.

By Asabea Akonor

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