The latest figures on world tourism issued by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that international tourist arrivals grew 5% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2018. This reflects continued strong demand in a favourable overall economic context.
All world regions enjoyed robust growth in international tourism in the first nine months of this year, fuelled by solid demand from major source markets. Asia and the Pacific led growth (+7%), followed by Europe and the Middle East (+6% each), Africa (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).
Despite comparatively slower growth between July and September, UNWTO estimates that destinations worldwide received 1,083 million international arrivals through September, an additional 56 million when compared to the same period of 2017.
2018 results to date are in line with UNWTO’s growth forecast of +4% to +5% for the year. The first nine months of the year usually account for about three quarters of total annual international arrivals, as they include the high season months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere.
Positive growth in tourism revenue in most destinations
With few exceptions, preliminary data on international tourism receipts confirm the positive trend seen in arrivals, with particularly strong results in Asian and European destinations.
Among the top earners, tourism earnings in the United Kingdom were up by 12% despite a decline in arrivals. In Australia, receipts increased by 11% whereas France reported an 8% growth and Italy 6%, both in line with growth in arrivals. Tourism receipts in the United States, Spain and Germany went up 3%. In Asia, China recorded a 21% increase in tourism earnings, with Macao (China) and Japan also leading results with 20% and 19% growth, respectively.
International tourism expenditure
Preliminary data on tourism spending for the first nine months of 2018 reflect increasing demand from major source markets.
The Russian Federation (+15%) reported the largest increase in spending and continues to recover strongly after some years of decline. The United Kingdom reported 10% growth despite a weak pound against the euro and US dollar, and tourism spending from France picked up 10% after some years of rather flat growth.
The United States, the world’s second largest source market, recorded a 7% increase in line with the performance of recent years while top source market China showed a minor decrease in spending in the first six months of 2018 as a result of the weaker Yuan.