The UNWTO reports solid growth in international arrivals in the first nine months of 2019, though uneven across regions.
International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew 4% in January-September 2019 compared to the same period last year, with mixed performance among world regions.
The UNWTO’s Tourism Barometer for November 2019 estimates that destinations worldwide received around 1.1 billion international tourist arrivals in the first nine months of 2019, about 43 million more than in the same nine months of 2018. This represents a continuation of the 6% growth recorded in 2018 though at a more moderate pace and in line with the annual average of 4% for the last ten years (2008 -2018).
The Middle East (+9.3%) led growth, followed by Asia and the Pacific (5.4%) and Africa (4.6%). Europe (+3.4%) and the Americas (+2.4%) enjoyed more moderate increases.
The Caribbean posted a 7.6% growth rate in the first nine months of 2019. While growth was up 15.0% in the first quarter and was up 8.2% in the second quarter growth fell by 1.3% in the third quarter of 2019 compared to third quarter 2018 as a result of issues in the Dominican Republic and the impact of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas.
According to IATA international air passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) saw a similar pattern to international arrivals with a 4.3% increase through September 2019.
However, the global economic slowdown, trade tensions and rising geopolitical challenges, social unrest, prolonged uncertainty about Brexit and lower business confidence have weighed on growth in international tourism.
The collapse of major travel group Thomas Cook, and some small European airlines has disrupted some tourism flows, though other travel service providers have moved in to absorb the current demand and offset, at least partly, the decline in capacity.
The failure of Thomas Cook on September 26 2019 left 600,000 travelers stranded around the world including 150,000 Britons. According to data provided by Mabrian Technologies 38 countries were affected , particularly in Europe and the Americas and more than 8.6 million flight seats would be cancelled from September 2019 until the end of August 2020 according to the inbound flight seats scheduled by Thomas Cook. By countries the UK, Spain, Turkey, Greece, the USA and Tunisia would be the most affected by the failure of the world’s oldest travel firm.
As per the main source markets, the United States led growth in international tourism expenditure in absolute terms, supported by a strong dollar. France reported the strongest increase among the top ten markets, reflecting for the second consecutive year a surging demand while China, the world’s top source market saw outbound trips increased by 14% in the first half of 2019, though expenditure fell 4% compared to the same period last year.
For more information go to https://webunwto.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2019-12/UNWTO_Barom19_04_November_excerpt_0.pdf
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.