Records from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, has revealed that the World Tourism Industry grew by 4.4 percent in 2015 to reach a total of 1,184 million in 2015, using the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. The report recorded that some 50 million more tourists (overnight visitors) travelled to international destinations around the world last year as compared to 2014.
The organisation observed that the more people in Europe, Asia and Pacific are taking pleasures in the industry, thus contributing in boosting the economy of the countries.
It also observed that 2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4 percent or more every year since the post-crisis year of 2010.
UNWTO Secretary-General, TalebRifai in a statement containing the breakdown of the benefiting countries challenged countries with low records of tourist arrivals, particularly in Africa, to promote policies that would foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability.
“International tourism reached new heights in 2015. The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world. “It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability” said UNWTO Secretary-General, TalebRifai.
TalebRifai through the statement noted that the demand in tourism service was strong overall, though with mixed results across individual destinations due to unusually strong exchange rate fluctuations, the drop in oil prices and other commodities which increased disposable income in importing countries, but weakened demand in exporters, as well as increased safety and security concerns.
“2015 results were influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and man-made crises in many parts of the world. As the current environment highlights in a particular manner the issues of safety and security, recalling that tourism development greatly depends upon our collective capacity to promote safe, secure and seamless travel.
“In this respect, UNWTO urges governments to include tourism administrations in their national security planning, structures and procedures, not only to ensure that the sector’s exposure to threats is minimised, but also to maximise the sector’s ability to support security and facilitation, as seamless and safe travel can and should go hand in hand”, added Mr Rifai.
Breakdown of the growth showed that advanced economiesrecorded +5 percent, exceeding that of emerging economies with +4 percent, boosted by the solid results of Europe +5 percent.
By region, the report recorded that Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific all recorded around 5 percent growth in 2015, Arrivals to the Middle East increased by 3 percent, while in Africa, limited data available points to an estimated 3 percent decrease, mostly due to weak results in North Africa, which accounts for over one third of arrivals in the region.
Results from the UNWTO Confidence Index remain largely positive for 2016, though at a slightly lower level as compared to the previous two years. Based on the current trend and this outlook, UNWTO projects that international tourist arrivals would grow by 4 percent worldwide in 2016.
The report recorded that in 2016, tourism growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific +4 to +5 percent and the Americas also recording +4 to +5 percent, followed by Europe +3.5 to +4.5 percent. The report equally projected that tourism is expected to grow by +2 to 5 in Africa and the Middle East +2 to +5 percent are positive, though with a larger degree of uncertainty and volatility.
The UNWTO 2015 regional results further indicated that Europe with +5 percent, led growths in absolute and relative terms supported by a weaker Euro vis-à-vis the US dollar and other main currencies. Nevertheless, arrivals reached 609 million(29 million more than in 2014).
In the same vein, Central and Eastern Europe with +6 percent rebounded from last year’s decrease in arrivals. Northern Europe, +6 percent, Southern Mediterranean Europe, +5 percent and Western Europe +4percent also recorded sound results, especially considering the many mature destinations they comprise.
However, tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific, +5 percent, recorded 13 million more international tourist arrivals last year to reach 277 million, with uneven results across destinations. Oceania, +7 percent and South-East Asia, +5 percent led growths, while South Asia and in North-East Asia recorded an increase of 4%.
International tourist arrivals in the Americas +5 percent grew 9 million to reach 191 million, consolidating the strong results of 2014. The appreciation of the US dollar stimulated outbound travel from the United States, benefiting the Caribbean and Central America, both recording 7 percent growth. Results in South America and North America both at +4 percent were close to the average. Also, international tourist arrivals in the Middle East grew by an estimated 3 percent to a total of 54 million, apparently in consolidation of the recovery initiated in 2014.
Limited available data for Africa points to a 3 percent decrease in international arrivals, reaching a total of 53 million. In North Africa arrivals declined by 8 percent and in Sub-Saharan Africa by 1 percent, though the latter returned to positive growth in the second half of the year. The Organisation however warned that results for both Africa and Middle East should be read with caution as it is based on limited available data.
Regarding China, USA and the UK lead outbound travel growth in 2015; a few leading source markets have driven tourism expenditure in 2015 supported by a strong currency and economy.It observed that among the world’s top source markets, China, with double-digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004, continues to lead global outbound travel, benefitting Asian destinations such as Japan and Thailand, as well as the United States and various European destinations.
By contrast, expenditure from the previously very dynamic source markets of the Russian Federation and Brazil declined significantly, reflecting the economic constraints in both countries and the depreciation of the rouble and the real against virtually all other currencies.
As for the traditional advanced economy source markets, expenditure from the United States, +9 percent, the world’s second largest source market, and the United Kingdom +6 percent was boosted by a strong currency and rebounding economy. Spending from Germany, Italy and Australia grew at a slower rate (all at +2%), while demand from Canada and France was rather weak.

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