INTERNATIONAL. International tourist arrivals grew +6% in the first half of 2018, according to new research from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). It follows a record year of +7% growth in 2017.

UNWTO’s latest barometer shows that all world regions enjoyed robust momentum in tourist arrivals in the first six months of the year. This was driven by strong demand from major source markets, supported by an upswing in the global economy, the tourism organisation noted.

Europe and Asia Pacific led growth, each with a +7% increase in arrivals. Within these regions, Southern Mediterranean Europe and Southeast Asia had the strongest results, both welcoming +9% more international tourists.

The Middle East and Africa saw arrivals growing at +5% and +4%, respectively. The Americas posted +3% growth in arrivals over the six-month period, driven by South America (+7%) and North America (+5%).

The UK, France and Russia all reported double-digit increases in outbound spending in Europe. The Republic of Korea drove growth in Asia Pacific, while the world’s top source market China reported similar spending to the same period last year.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Today’s release of international tourism data for the first half of 2018 serves as further proof of the sector’s resilience and relentless growth trajectory. We continue to work with our many partners to translate this growth into better jobs, more benefits to societies, and more opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and destinations.”

The first half of the year accounts for about 45% of annual international tourist arrivals. The second half is three days longer and includes the Northern Hemisphere high-season months of July and August, UNWTO noted.

Growth prospects for the remainder of 2018 remain positive overall, though at a slower pace, according to the latest UNWTO Confidence Index survey. The Index value for May-August and expectations for September-December are somewhat lower than the Index value for January-April.

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, which is published six times a year, monitors short-term tourism trends on a regular basis to provide global tourism stakeholders with up-to-date analysis.