Global tourism arrivals continued to increase between January and April 2015, rising 4% to 332 million overnight visitors.
According to the UNWTO, this marks a 16m increase in arrivals compared to same period last year, and follows a full-year increase of 4.3% in 2014.
By region, the Americas (+6%) led the world’s growth, followed by Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, all of which recording growth rates of 4-5%. Africa however, experienced a 6% decline in arrivals, mainly due to the Ebola outbreak.
“It is encouraging to see the tourism sector consolidating its excellent results despite security concerns and unrest in many parts of our world,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
“This underscores that tourism is a surprisingly resilient economic sector which increasingly contributes to development in many countries around the globe. For national governments, it is a reminder that tourism can be part of the solution to foster socio-economic development and job creation.”
In the Asia Pacific region, Oceania (+8%) and Northeast Asia (+5%) performed well, while Southeast Asia (+3%) saw mixed results, with the rebound in Thailand (+25%) offset by declines in other destinations.
Europe, the world’s most visited region, continued to climb in the January-April 2015 period, with Central & Eastern Europe (+7%), Mediterranean Europe (+5%), Western Europe and Northern Europe (both +4%) all demonstrating year-on-year growth. And there was a similar story in the Americas, where all four sub-regions continued climb, led by South America (+8%) and the Caribbean (+7%).
Looking ahead, the UNWTO said that almost 500m tourists are expected to travel abroad between May and August 2015. Bookings for this period are up 5%.