International tourist arrivals up 4% in H1

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — International tourist arrivals increased by four percent in the first half, driven by affordable travel and increased connectivity, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said.

In a statement, the UNWTO said destinations worldwide received 671 million international tourist arrivals between January and June, almost 30 million more than the same period last year.

“Growth in arrivals is returning to its historic trend and is in line with UNWTO’s forecast of three percent to four percent growth in international tourist arrivals for the full year 2019, as reported in the January Barometer,” it said.

The Middle East region led the growth with an eight percent increase in arrivals, reflecting a positive winter season, as well as an increase in demand during Ramadan in May and Eid Al-Fitr in June.

This was followed by Asia and the Pacific with a six percent increase in international arrivals largely fueled by Chinese outbound travel.

“Growth was led by South Asia and North-East Asia (both +7 percent), followed by South-East Asia (+5 percent), and arrivals in Oceania increased by one percent,” the UNWTO reported.

In addition, international arrivals in Europe grew four percent, while Africa grew three percent and the Americas saw a two percent rise.

“So far, the drivers of these results have been a strong economy, affordable air travel, increased air connectivity and enhanced visa facilitation,” the UNWTO said.

“However, weaker economic indicators, prolonged uncertainty about Brexit, trade and technological tensions and rising geopolitical challenges, have started to take a toll on business and consumer confidence, as reflected in a more cautious UNWTO Confidence Index,” it added.

Despite posting slower arrivals growth in the first quarter, the UNWTO remained optimistic about the international tourists market.

“International tourism continues to perform strongly worldwide fueled by a positive economy, increased air capacity and visa facilitation,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

 “Growth in arrivals is easing slightly after two years of exceptional results, but the sector continues to outpace the global rate of economic growth,” he said.

Pololikashvili earlier stressed the importance of translating the growth of tourism into jobs that would give betters lives to people.

“We need to continue investing in innovation, digital transformation and education so that we can harness the many benefits tourism can bring while at the same time mitigating its impact on the environment and society with a better management of tourism flows,” the UNWTO Secretary-General said.

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