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Article
june 17, 2010
International Tourism: First Results of 2010 confirm Upward Trend

International tourism is steadily gaining momentum following an extremely challenging 2009. International tourist arrivals grew by 7% in the first two months of 2010 worldwide, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Growth was particularly strong in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow by 3% to 4% in 2010.

2010 – Emerging destinations lead recovery

According to the April Interim Update of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals are estimated to have increased by 7% in the first two months of 2010. This follows the upturn already registered in the last quarter of 2009 when arrivals grew by 2% after 14 consecutive months of negative results. Though data for March is still limited, countries with data already reported confirm that this positive trend is set to continue.

Growth was positive in all world regions during the first two months of 2010 led by Asia and the Pacific (+10%) and Africa (+7%). Information for the three countries of the Middle East that have reported results so far also point to a strong rebound in the region, though, compared to very subdued first months of 2009. The pace of growth was slower in Europe (+3%) and in the Americas (+3%), the two regions hardest hit by the global crisis and where economic recovery is proving to be comparatively weaker.

A large number of countries around the world reported positive results in the first months of 2010. Of the 77 destinations reporting data for this period, 60 showed positive figures, of which 24 posted double-digit growth including Estonia, Israel, Hong Kong (China), Macao (China), Japan, Taiwan (pr. of China), Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Guam, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, US Virgin Islands, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Though there is a clear improvement on the negative results of 2009, this growth must be considered with caution as it compares with a particularly weak period of 2009 − the worst months of the global economic crisis. On the whole, international tourist arrivals totaled 119 million during the first two months of 2010, up 7% on 2009 but still 2% below the value of the record year of 2008.

2010 forecast not affected by recent air traffic disruption
UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow by 3% to 4% in 2010.

This outlook has not been altered by the recent air traffic disruption in European airspace. Although impacting very seriously on travellers, specific destinations and companies, in particular airlines, airports and tour operators, UNWTO estimates that the closure of a major part of European airspace between 15 and 20 April might have caused a loss of less than half a per cent of the yearly volume of international tourist arrivals in Europe and 0.3% of the total count for the world.

Nevertheless, while the positive trend registered in the first months of 2010 reflects improved economic conditions, UNWTO warns that many challenges remain.

“Although economic results have improved significantly in recent months with a positive impact on tourism demand we must remain cautious as many factors can still jeopardize the pace of recovery”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai today in Sofia, Bulgaria, at the opening of the UNWTO Seminar on Tourism Governance In Times Of Crisis: Conjunctural and Structural Policies. “The economic recovery is being driven mainly by emerging economies while growth is still sluggish in most advanced ones. At the same time, increasing unemployment levels in major tourism source markets is a cause of concern”, he added.

Tourism 2020 Vision

Tourism 2020 Vision is the World Tourism Organization's long-term forecast and assessment of the development of tourism up to the first 20 years of the new millennium. An essential outcome of the Tourism 2020 Vision are quantitative forecasts covering a 25 years period, with 1995 as the base year and forecasts for 2010 and 2020.
Although the evolution of tourism in the last few years has been irregular, UNWTO maintains its long-term forecast for the moment. The underlying structural trends of the forecast are believed not to have significantly changed. Experience shows that in the short term, periods of faster growth (1995, 1996, 2000) alternate with periods of slow growth (2001 to 2003). While the pace of growth till 2000 actually exceeded the Tourism 2020 Vision forecast, it is generally expected that the current slowdown will be compensated in the medium to long term.



UNWTO's Tourism 2020 Vision forecasts that international arrivals are expected to reach nearly 1.6 billion by the year 2020. Of these worldwide arrivals in 2020, 1.2 billion will be intraregional and 378 million will be long-haul travelers.
The total tourist arrivals by region shows that by 2020 the top three receiving regions will be Europe (717 million tourists), East Asia and the Pacific (397 million) and the Americas (282 million), followed by Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

East Asia and the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East and Africa are forecasted to record growth at rates of over 5% year, compared to the world average of 4.1%. The more mature regions Europe and Americas are anticipated to show lower than average growth rates. Europe will maintain the highest share of world arrivals, although there will be a decline from 60 per cent in 1995 to 46 per cent in 2020.

Source: UNWTO

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