International tourist arrivals increased by five per cent in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts four per cent to 4.5 per cent growth - again, above the long term projections.
Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+ six per cent), Africa (+ six per cent) and Europe (+ five per cent). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10 per cent), Central and Eastern Europe (+ seven per cent), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+ six per cent) and North Africa (+ six per cent).
Taleb Rifai, secretary-general, UNWTO, said, 2013 was an excellent year for international tourism. The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies.
UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by four per cent to 4.5 per cent in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8 per cent per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years.
The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth, added Rifai.
2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+ five per cent to + six per cent) and Africa (+ four per cent to + six per cent), followed by Europe and the Americas (both + three per cent to + four per cent). In the Middle East (zero per cent to + five per cent) prospects are positive yet volatile.
Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+ five per cent) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the regions average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5 per cent a year). This is particularly