International tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1,322 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018 at a rate of 4%-5%.
Based on data reported by destinations around the world, it is estimated that international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) worldwide increased 7% in 2017. This is well above the sustained and consistent trend of 4% or higher growth since 2010 and represents the strongest results in seven years.
Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe recorded extraordinary results for such a large and rather mature region, with 8% more international arrivals than in 2016. Africa consolidated its 2016 rebound with an 8% increase. Asia and the Pacific recorded 6% growth, the Middle East 5% and the Americas 3%.
2017 was characterised by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years. 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.
“International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development. As the third export sector in the world, tourism is essential for job creation and the prosperity of communities around the world.” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Yet as we continue to grow we must work closer together to ensure this growth benefits every member of every host community, and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Growth expected to continue in 2018
The current strong momentum is expected to continue in 2018, though at a more sustainable pace after eight years of steady expansion following the 2009 economic and financial crisis. Based on current trends, economic prospects and the outlook by the UNWTO Panel of Experts, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals worldwide to grow at a rate of 4%-5% in 2018. This is somewhat above the 3.8% average increase projected for the period 2010-2020 by UNWTO in its Tourism Towards 2030 long-term forecast. Europe and the Americas are both expected to grow by 3.5%-4.5%, Asia and the Pacific by 5%-6%, Africa by 5%-7% and the Middle East by 4%-6%.
2017 results by UNWTO region
International tourist arrivals in Europe reached 671 million in 2017, a remarkable 8% increase following a comparatively weaker 2016. Growth was driven by the extraordinary results in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+13%). Western Europe (+7%), Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded robust growth.
San Marino is leading on the list of countries whose tourism is the fastest growing in Europe, while BiH is ranked ninth, according to the World Tourism Organization.
When it comes to the countries of the region, Croatia and Montenegro have been popular for a long time, but this year, there is an increased interest in Slovenia and BiH. BiH is currently a leader in tourism development, and guests from other countries are attracted by mosques that date since 16thcentury, Ottoman architecture, beautiful Mostar and its Old Bridge on the Neretva River as well as the historically important capital of Sarajevo. Thanks to these and other sites of BiH, recorded growth of tourism is 18.66 percent.
The list of countries with the highest growth in tourism year to year:
- San Marino – 31.1 percent
- Georgia – 27.9 percent
- Israel – 24.6 percent
- Turkey – 21.14 percent
- Island – 24.11 percent
- Macedonia – 23.5 percent
- Azerbaijan – 20 percent
- Moldova – 19.6 percent
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – 18.66 percent
- Armenia – 18.65 percent