International tourist arrivals grew by 5% during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, reaching almost 500 million, according to data just released by UNWTO. Growth was above the projection made at the beginning of the year (+3% to +4%) and is also exceeding the trend of the UNWTO long-term outlook Tourism Towards 2030 (+3.8% a year).
Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013, according to the Advance Edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released on the occasion of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly. This represents an increase of 5% or an additional 25 million international tourists compared to the same period of 2012. Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations (+6%) than in advanced economies (+4%), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.
Asia and the Pacific and Europe lead
Asia and the Pacific (+6%) saw robust growth boosted by the increase in arrivals to South-East Asia (+12%), a subregion which is maintaining the extraordinary momentum of recent years, and South Asia (+7%).
In Europe, international tourist arrivals were up 5% despite the lingering economic difficulties. Growth was led by Central and Eastern Europe (+10%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%).
The Americas (+2%) reported a rather weaker first half of 2013 compared to the strong growth of previous years. Central America (+4%) performed above the region’s average, while arrival numbers were flat in the Caribbean and in South America.
In Africa (+4%), the growth of recent years was sustained during the first half of 2013 due to the continued recovery of North Africa (+4%) and the positive results of Sub-Saharan destinations (+4%).
The Middle East rebounded after two years of negative growth with an estimated increase in international arrivals of 13%. Yet, results should be taken with caution as growth is rather uneven across destinations and this assessment is based on still limited available data and reflects data up to June only.
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