International tourism demand exceeds expectations in the first half of 2013 | World Tourism Organization UNWTO

UNWTO logoInternational 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.

via International tourism demand exceeds expectations in the first half of 2013 | World Tourism Organization UNWTO.

UNWTO General Assembly opens in Victoria Falls | World Tourism Organization UNWTO

UNWTO logoThe global tourism community gathers this week at Victoria Falls for the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly. Visa facilitation, connectivity and accessibility will be key topics at this Assembly, aiming to advance tourism´s sustainable growth (Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe, 24 – 29 August 2013).

Key issues such as visa facilitation, connectivity and accessibility will be in the agenda of the over 120 delegations from UNWTO Members States gathering this week at Victoria Falls. The 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly will also debate the Organization’s Programme of Work for 2014-2015 and elect the Secretary General for the next four years’ period.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greeted the participants in a video message. “Tourism is an undisputed generator of national wealth, corporate income and local employment. Managed sustainably, it can benefit people and planet alike,” he said addressing the Assembly. “As we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and define a post-2015 development agenda, I call on all UNWTO Members and the global tourism community to examine how best to contribute to sustainable development.”

“This Assembly is a timely opportunity for all of us to continue along an encouraging path to drive tourism towards its fullest potential in fostering sustainable economic growth, jobs and development and what better backdrop to do so than here in Africa, a region where we believe tourism can be a true force for good”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

The General Assembly is the main statutory meeting of UNWTO and the most important gathering of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives from around the world. Held every two years, the Assembly is attended by delegations representing Full and Associate UNWTO Members, Affiliate Members, and representatives of other international organizations.

via UNWTO General Assembly opens in Victoria Falls | World Tourism Organization UNWTO.