Asia and the Pacific leads growth but Europe also does well
Despite concerns over the global economy, international tourism demand continues to show resilience. The number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5% in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. That’s 22 million more. Although a slight slowdown in growth can be expected for the rest of the year, international arrivals are forecast to exceed one billion by the end of 2012.
Asia leads growth, of course. International arrivals were up in all regions of the world between January and June 2012, but Asia and the Pacific led growth (+8%), boosted by the recovery of Japanese inbound and outbound tourism, as well as by the continued strong performance of other major source markets throughout the region. Destinations in South Asia and Southeast Asia (both +9%) showed some of the best results worldwide.
Europe (+4%), the most-visited destination in the world, consolidated its record growth of 2011, despite continuing economic volatility. Results were above the regional average in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) where many destinations saw double-digit growth, as well as in Western Europe (+5%). By contrast, demand in Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+1%) slowed.
The Americas (+5%) grew in line with the world average, with Central America (+7%) and South America (+6%) recording the strongest results. In Africa (+7%), the return of tourist flows to Tunisia was reflected in the result for North Africa (+11%).
In terms of outbound markets, growth was significant in China (+30%), Russia (+15%), the USA (+9%), Germany (+6%) and Canada (+6%). In Japan, an 8% increase in spending on overseas tourism confirms the recovery of this important market. However, growth was slow or negative in the UK, Australia, Italy and France.
[pictured: Statue dedicated to the traveller, Oviedo, Spain]