By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Global tourism continued to grow steadily during the first eight months of 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization, which tallied an increase of 5 percent from January to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.
The best-performing regions were Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. For the year to-date, tourist arrivals totaled 747 million worldwide, up 38 million from last year, when global tourist arrivals topped 1 billion for the first time ever.
International arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time.
“While global economic growth is in low gear, international tourism continues to produce above average results in most world regions, offering vital opportunities for employment and local economies,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai at the Opening of the European Tourism Forum in Vilnius.
“This is particularly important for Europe, where unemployment is a major concern in many destinations and where the tourism sector has been a source of job growth in the last decade,” Rifai said. “Furthermore, through its value chain, tourism creates businesses and jobs in many other sectors and produces significant export revenues which contribute favourably to the balance of payments in many countries,” he added.
Europe benefited the most from the growth of tourism in the first eight months of 2013, with an estimated 20 million more arrivals in the region. Given that Europe is the world’s largest tourism region with many mature destinations, a 5 percent growth rate is very positive. Central and Eastern Europe ( plus 7 percent) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe ( plus 6 percent) performed particularly well.
Asia and the Pacific ( plus 6 percent) continued to show robust growth bolstered by South-East Asia ( plus 12 percent) adding some ten million arrivals. The Americas ( plus 3 percent), which gained four million additional arrivals in the first eight months of the year, reported comparatively weaker results, with North America ( plus 4 percent) in the lead.
Africa ( plus 5 percent), where growth was by led by the recovery of North Africa (plus 6 percent), saw two million extra arrivals, while in the Middle East arrivals rebounded by 7 percent after two years of decline.
Emerging economies continue to lead international tourism expenditure, with all BRIC countries except India, reporting double-digit growth. China posted an extraordinary 31 percent increase in spending, while the Russian Federation (plus 28 percent) and Brazil (plus 15 percent) likewise saw a sound increase during the period.
Tourism spending was slower in the advanced economy source markets of Canada ( plus 4 percent), the United Kingdom (plus 2 percent), France (plus 2 percent), the United States (plus 1 percent) and Germany (0 percent), while Japan, Australia and Italy saw declines in tourism spending.