International tourist arrivals reach 1.1 billion in 9 months

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Tourist arrivals to worldwide destinations reached 1.1 billion in the nine months ending September, the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO) said in a report.

Latest results of the UNWTO World Tourism barometer showed the January to September figure is 43 million higher than tourists arrivals in the same period last year, an estimated 4.1 percent increase.

This is still within the UNWTO’s target of three to four percent growth in tourist arrivals for this year.

“Growth in arrivals during the first nine months of 2019 was led by the Middle East (+9 percent), followed by Asia and the Pacific and Africa (both +5 percent), Europe (+3 percent) and the Americas (+2 percent),” the UNWTO said.

Despite the positive numbers, the UNWTO said global economic slowdown, rising trade, geopolitical tensions and prolonged uncertainty around Brexit weighed on international tourism, as arrivals experienced a more moderate pace of growth during the summer peak season in the northern hemisphere (July-September).

The UNWTO reported that Europe’s pace of growth slowed down to three percent in January to September this year from double that rate last year, reflecting slower demand during the peak summer season in the world’s most visited region.

“Also slower than last year, although still above the global average, growth in Asia and the Pacific (+5 percent) was led by South Asia (+8 percent), followed by Southeast (+6%) and Northeast Asia (+5 percent), while Oceania showed a two percent increase,” the UNWTO said.

Meanwhile, available data for Africa showed continued robust results in North Africa (+10 percent) after two years of double-digit figures, while arrivals in Sub-Saharan Africa grew one percent.

The two percent increase in the Americas, on the other hand, reflects a mixed regional picture.

“While many island destinations in the Caribbean (+8 percent) consolidate their recovery after the 2017 hurricanes, arrivals in South America were down three percent partly due to a decline in Argentinian outbound travel, which affected neighboring destinations,” the UNWTO said.

Arrivals in both North America and Central America grew two percent during the period.

“As world leaders meet at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid to find concrete solutions to the climate emergency, the release of this latest World Tourism Barometer shows the growing power of tourism, a sector with the potential to drive the sustainability agenda forward,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“As tourist numbers continue to rise, the opportunities tourism can bring also rise, as do our sector’s responsibilities to people and planet,” he said.

Apart from growing global tourism arrivals, the UNWTO barometer reported that international tourism revenues have also been increasing after generating $1.7 trillion in 2018.

This makes international tourism the third largest export category behind fuels ($2.4 trillion) and chemicals ($2.2 trillion).

International tourism accounts for 29 percent of the world’s services exports and seven percent of overall exports.

In some regions these proportions exceed the world average, especially the Middle East and Africa where tourism represents over 50 percent of services exports and about nine percent of exports overall.

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