International tourism grew by five percent over the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest World Tourism Barometer published recently by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
International tourist arrivals during the period reached 747 million worldwide, some 38 million more than the same period of 2012.
“While global economic growth is in low gear, international tourism continues to produce above average results in most world regions, offering vital opportunities for employment and local economies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “This is particularly important for Europe, where unemployment is a major concern in many destinations and where the tourism sector has been a source of job growth in the last decade. Furthermore, through its value chain, tourism creates businesses and jobs in many other sectors and produces significant export revenues which contribute favorably to the balance of payments in many countries.”
Europe (+5 percent) benefited the most from the growth of tourism in the first eight months of 2013, with an estimated 20 million more arrivals in the region. Given that Europe is the world’s largest tourism region with many mature destinations, a 5 percent growth rate is very positive. Central and Eastern Europe (+7 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent) performed particularly well, the report said.
Similarly, Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent) continued to show robust growth bolstered by South-East Asia (+12 percent) adding some ten million arrivals.
The Americas (+3 percent), which gained four million additional arrivals in the first eight months of the year, reported comparatively weaker results, with North America (+4 percent) in the lead.
Africa (+5 percent) where growth was by led by the recovery of North Africa (+6 percent), received two million extra arrivals, while in the Middle East arrivals rebounded by 7 percent after two years of decline, said the report.