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International Tourism Grew in All Regions in 2019

News The latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer only proves forecasts of experts. International tourism is growing, and tourist arrivals to all regions increased in 2019. That being said, the growth was slower than expected due to a number of reasons. Last year, a chain of events made it harder for the industry to develop. Geopolitical and social tensions in different regions, the collapse of Thomas Cook, Brexit uncertainty, and the possibility of a new global economic crisis certainly made their negative impact on tourism. Europe together with Asia and the Pacific ended up posting smaller increases in the number of international visits in 2019 than in 2018 and 2017.

UNWTO predicts that this year the growth may be 3% to 4%. According to the UNWTO Confidence Index, 47% of participants think that tourism will grow faster in 2020, and 43% think that the growth level will be the same as in 2019. Such global events as Expo 2020 Dubai and Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo will help the industry grow faster.

Nowadays, most countries in the world already understand how important tourism is. The annual tourism growth keeps outpacing the growth level of the world economy. This means that in the period of uncertainty, trade wars, and social unrest, tourism can be a “safe haven” that can help countries to develop. Moreover, tourism nowadays is not only about hotels in London or Paris. Tourism is a major contributor to smaller communities and local businesses.

In 2019, the Middle East turned out to be the fastest-growing region in terms of international tourist arrivals. The region’s growth of 8% was twice faster than the global average. International arrivals to Asia and the Pacific added 5%. The growth of international tourism in Europe was slower than in previous years, reaching only +4%. That being said, Europe leads in the absolute number of international arrivals – last year, 73 million foreign tourists visited this region. The Americas and Africa added 2% and 4% respectively.

Despite all troubles, tourism expenditures remained strong in 2019. France enjoyed the highest growth in international tourist spending (+11%). The number of destinations that earn at least US$1 billion from tourism is growing every year. In this new decade that has started, it is clear that tourism will play even a more important role as an economic growth driver and creator of jobs and opportunities not only in big cities but also in rural areas.


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