The number of international tourists reached 1.13 billion in 2014, 51 million more than in 2013, on trend for the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis, the U. Nations W. Tourism Organization has announced.
“Over the past years, tourism has proven to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs, said Taleb Rifai, the organization’s secretary general.
“This has been true for destinations all around the world, but particularly for Europe, as the region struggles to consolidate its way out of one of the worst economic periods in its history,” he added.
According to the latest U.N. figures, the Americas (+7 per cent) and Asia and the Pacific (+5 per cent) regions registered the strongest growth, while Europe (+4 per cent), the Middle East (+4 per cent) and Africa (+2 per cent) grew at a slightly more modest pace.
By subregion, North America (+8 per cent) saw the best results, followed by northeast Asia, South Asia, southern and Mediterranean Europe, northern Europe and the Caribbean, all increasing by 7 per cent.
The outlook remains positive for 2015, as confirmed by the U.N. Confidence Index. According to the 300 experts consulted worldwide, tourism performance is expected to improve this year, though expectations are less upbeat than a year ago. The U.N. organization forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow up to 4 per cent this year. And by region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific and the Americas, followed by Europe. Arrivals are also expected to increase in Africa and the Middle East.
“We expect demand to continue growing in 2015 as the global economic situation improves, even though there are still plenty of challenges ahead. On the positive side, oil prices have declined to a level not seen since 2009. This will lower transport costs and boost economic growth by lifting purchasing power and private demand in oil importing economies. Yet, it could also negatively impact some of the oil exporting countries which have emerged as strong tourism source markets,” added Rifai.