INTERNATIONAL. International tourist arrivals in July and August totalled over 300 million for the first time, according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Many destinations reported double-digit growth during the Northern Hemisphere summer peak season, in particular in the Mediterranean.

Tourist visitors worldwide climbed by +7% year-on-year in the eight months to the end of August, reaching 901 million. Growth was “well above” that seen in previous years, UNWTO said.

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“With upbeat prospects for the remaining months of the year, 2017 is set to be the eighth consecutive year of continued solid growth for international tourism,” the organisation noted in the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Results reflect the sustained growth in many destinations combined with the recovery of those suffering from security challenges in recent years.

By UNWTO regions, growth was strongest in Africa (+9%) and Europe (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+6%), the Middle East (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).

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“Tourism is a major economic engine and employment generator, contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of millions of people around the world,” stated UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in London, ahead of the World Travel Market event being held in London this week.

“As we draw to the end of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we must reflect on how to manage tourism in a responsible and sustainable way beyond 2017. Maximising the social and economic benefits of tourism while minimising any negative impacts on host communities and the environment should remain at the forefront of our efforts in the years to come, with policy-makers, companies and travellers all contributing to this shared objective.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai: “We must reflect on how to manage tourism in a responsible and sustainable way beyond 2017”

Regional results

In Europe, international arrivals rebounded in both Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+12%) and Western Europe (+7%) following a weak 2016. Arrivals grew +6% in Northern Europe and +4% in Central and Eastern Europe between January and August.

Africa’s strong performance was largely attributed to the strong rebound in North Africa (+15%) and the solid results of Sub-Saharan Africa (+5%).

South Asia (+10%) led growth in Asia and the Pacific, followed by South-East Asia (+8%) and Oceania (+7%), while results in North-East Asia (+3%) were mixed.

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Most destinations in the Americas continued to enjoy positive results, UNWTO said. South America (+7%) led the way, followed by Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%). In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrast with a decrease in the USA, the region’s largest destination.

Results in the Middle East were mixed, with some destinations strongly rebounding from negative growth in previous years, while others reported declines through August.

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Inbound visitor growth across world destinations was fuelled by strong outbound demand from the majority of source markets.

Among the top ten markets, international tourism expenditure grew fastest in China (+19%), the Republic of Korea (+12%), the USA (+8%) and Canada (+7%). Expenditure from Germany, the UK, Australia, Italy and Hong Kong (China) grew between +3% and +5%, while France reported a modest +1% increase.

UNWTO also noted a significant recovery in demand from the Russian Federation (+27%) and Brazil (+35%) after a few years of declines in tourism expenditure abroad.