International tourist arrivals increased 5% to 285 million in the first four months of 2012, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Between January and April 2012, 15m more people took overnight international trips, with the global total rising from 270m in the first four months of 2011 to 285m in January-April this year.
Asia Pacific and Africa (both +8%), show the best results, with both regions seeing a rebound from the declines in 2011. In Asia Pacific, Japanese travel is on the mend, with arrivals to the country up by 40% in the first five months of 2012. In Africa, North Africa (+11%) returned to positive growth thanks to the results of Tunisia (+48%) and Egypt (+29%).
“It is very encouraging to see demand returning to countries such as Japan, Egypt and Tunisia. These are long standing tourism destinations ready to fully welcome back the millions of tourists that each year chose to visit them,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
The Americas (+6%) recorded growth slightly above the world average, with solid results across almost all destinations. Europe (+4%) consolidated its record growth of 2011, despite continuing economic volatility in the eurozone.
The UNWTO also forecast strong demand for the northern hemisphere peak summer holiday season. Around 415m tourists expected to travel abroad between May and August this year.
Reservations for air travel within the same region (+7%) are stronger than for air travel between regions (+4%). In general terms, growth is somewhat more moderate than in the first four months of 2012 (+7% globally).
UNWTO forecasts international tourism to increase by 3% to 4% for the full year 2012. While the pace of growth is slowing, international overnight visitors remain on track to hit the milestone of one billion arrivals expected this year.
“UNWTO is confident that the growing political commitment in support of the sector will result in overall positive outcomes for tourism and contribute to global growth, employment and a sustainable economic transformation,” said Rifai.