Global tourism has grown by five percent in the first eight months of the year, hitting a record 747 million international tourist arrivals, Travel Weekly has reported, citing the latest figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Helped by strong results in Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Middle East, the 2013 figures were 38 million more than in the same period of 2012. Europe, registered a 5 percent growth, with an estimated 20 million more arrivals in the region.
Speaking at the opening of the European Tourism Forum in Vilnius, UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai, said: ‘While global economic growth is in low gear, international tourism continues to produce above average results in most world regions, offering vital opportunities for employment and local economies.
‘This is particularly important for Europe, where unemployment is a major concern in many destinations and where the tourism sector has been a source of job growth in the last decade.
‘Furthermore, through its value chain, tourism creates businesses and jobs in many other sectors and produces significant export revenues which contribute favourably to the balance of payments in many countries.’
While the 100 million figure was exceeded for the first time in June, the peak summer months saw international arrivals exceed the 125 million mark in both July and August.
The largest international tourism earners saw receipts increase in double-digits, including Thailand at 27 percent, Hong Kong registering 25 percent, Turkey at 22 percent, Japan at 19 percent, the UK at 18 percent, Greece at 15 percent, India at 14 percent, Malaysia by 12 percent and the US by 11 percent.
Tourism spending was slower in the advanced economies, with Canada, the UK, France and the US registering less than 5 percent increase, Germany at zero percent increase, while Japan, Australia and Italy saw declines in expenditure.
The emerging economies are ahead in international tourism expenditure, with all BRIC countries except India, reporting double-digit growth, the report said.