World tourism numbers rise to highest half-year figures since 2010

Rising business confidence and a strong outbound demand from Britain, China and France drive the growth in tourist numbers, especially in the Mediterranean.

Sep 11, 2017 | By Pameyla Cambe

It seems that as the world continues to shrink thanks to globalization, more and more people are being affected by a specific condition known as “wanderlust” — the overwhelming urge to escape away to distant lands and travel the world.

That is certainly the case for some 598 million people who, between January and June this year, made up the largest international tourist figures that the world has seen in the last seven years. This is according to UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), who reported a 6.4% rise in half-year figures from last year.

Of course, there are other reasons for the increase. This includes a rising business confidence and the strong outbound demand from major source markets such as Britain, China, France and the United States.

“The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Some of the countries in question are Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which had previously seen a slump in visitors thanks to a string of terrorist attacks. This year, however, things are looking up: Mediterranean destinations are reporting “particularly strong growth” in double-digit figures.

Southern and Mediterranean Europe have seen a 12% rise in international visitors, while North Africa and the Middle East recorded an increase of 16% and 8.9% respectively.

Over at Europe — the world’s most visited region and home to several of the most beautiful countries — tourist arrivals rose by 7.7%. Closer to home, Asia and the Pacific posted a 5.7% growth. International arrivals in the US went up by 3%, with South America seeing a more solid growth at 6%. North America, however, seems to have fallen in travellers’ opinions, with the region only seeing a 2% rise.

2017’s results come as no surprise to experts though. In 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9% from the previous year to 1.23 billion. The UN therefore expects the figure to grow by three to four percent this year.

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