New Delhi: Despite global economic challenges, international tourism exceeded expectations with a record 1,087 million footfalls in 2013 and would grow 4-4.5 percent this year, says the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Despite global economic challenges, tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent or by 52 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent), Africa (+6 percent) and Europe (+5 percent), the report said.
The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10 percent), Central and Eastern Europe (+7 percent), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent) and North Africa (+6 percent).
“The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4 to 4.5 percent in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of plus 3.8 percent per year between 2010 and 2020.
The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years.
“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth,” added Rifai.
Among the 10 most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of $102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28 percent in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26 percent growth through September.
In 2014, prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5 to +6 percent) and Africa (+4 to +6 percent), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3 to +4 percent).