The world enjoyed significant tourism growth last year, even
as the United States' share of international visitors fell, according to the United
Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
International tourist arrivals grew 7% in 2017 to a total of
1.32 billion, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. The momentum is
expected to continue this year at a rate of about 4-5%, which UNWTO considers "a
more sustainable pace."
The 7% increase in international tourist arrivals, defined
as overnight visitors, "is well above the sustained and consistent trend
of 4% or higher growth since 2010 and represents the strongest results in seven
years," UNWTO reported.
"Results were partly shaped by the global economic
upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging
source markets, particularly a rebound in tourism spending from Brazil and the
Russian Federation after a few years of declines," the report said.
The Barometer showed that Europe recorded 8% more
international arrivals than in 2016, "extraordinary results for such a
large and rather mature region," as did Africa. Asia and the Pacific
recorded 6% growth, the Middle East 5% and the Americas 3%, with 207 million
international tourist arrivals.
However, most of the growth in the Americas was in South
America, with a 7% increase, and Central America and the Caribbean, both up 4%.
North America recorded 2% growth owing to increases in Mexico and Canada. The
U.S. saw a dip.
Looking more closely at Europe, tourist arrivals surged to
671 million last year, following a comparatively weaker 2016, and driven by "extraordinary
results" in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe
(+7%), Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded
robust growth, the report said.
In Asia, South Asia grew 10%, Southeast Asia 8%, and Oceania
7%. Northeast Asia travel increased 3%.
Africa's growth was mostly fueled by North Africa, which saw
a strong recovery in arrivals, up 13%, while Sub-Saharan Africa saw 5% growth.