Published on : Friday, February 17, 2017
The rise in the international tourist figure rose by four percent globally to 1.2 billion in 2016. Asians travelled more but visitor arrivals in Europe was hit by security fears. This marked the seventh consecutive year of growth since 2009, when global tourism figures declined four percent as the financial crisis and an outbreak of swine flu saw cash-strapped people stay at home.
UNWTO confirmed that the number of people living in Asia and discovering both their own region and the rest of the world rose eight percent compared to 2015. The Asia-Pacific area, meanwhile, proved a popular destination—the second most visited region after Europe.
What was the down turn in the trend is the slow growth in the European travel market although the number still looks impressive with 620 million tourists visiting last year.
WTO chief Taleb Rifai said that the results in Europe were “very mixed,”; while some areas remained scantily visitied, others received “a double-digit growth rate and some others a flat rate.”
The body also confirmed that the Americas registered a growth of four percent in visitor numbers.
Africa, meanwhile, recovered from a sharp drop in 2015 due to security fears, recording an eight percent growth. The Middle-East, however, saw a four percent drop in the arrival of tourists.
Rifai refused to give a much-anticipated ranking of the most visited countries, saying this would be unveiled at a later date.
In 2015, France ranked number one, followed by the United States and Spain. However, France has been hard hit by extremist attacks in the past two years, and there are fears this has impacted tourist arrivals. The major drop in Paris tourism took place after the terror attack in November 2015, killing 130 people. Frederic Valletoux, the tourism chief for the Paris region, admitted that the area hadn’t recovered, and that the impact was “lasting and completely unprecedented.”
Tourism represents 10% of global GDP, 7% of international trade and 30% of service exports, according to the WTO. Emphasizing how crucial it is worldwide, one in every 11 jobs comes from tourism, if direct and indirect posts are taken into account.