International tourism continued to strengthen in the first quarter of 2017, as travellers shrugged off security and economic concerns to cross borders in increasing numbers.
According to the latest data from the UNWTO, international overnight stays increased 6% to 369 million in the first three months of the year – an absolute increase of 21m visitors compared to Q1 2016.
The January-April period usually represents about 28% of the yearly total and includes major travel periods such as the Chinese New Year and Easter holidays.
International arrivals increased in all major global regions, with the Middle East (+10%) and Africa (+8%) seeing especially strong growth. Europe (+6%), Asia Pacific (6%) and the Americas (+4%) also continued to see robust gains. In terms of sub-regions, North Africa (+18%) recovered strongly from a poor Q1 last year, but the Caribbean’s (+2%) was relatively weak.
In Asia Pacific, South Asia (+14%) led the way, followed by Oceania (+7%), Southeast Asia (+6%) and Northeast Asia (+5%).
“Destinations that were affected by negative events during 2016 are showing clear signs of recovery in a very short period of time, and this is very welcoming news for all, but particularly for those whose livelihoods depend on tourism in these destinations”, said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
According to the UNWTO’s “Panel of Tourism Experts”, which is surveyed every four months, global tourism performance in the first four months of 2017 reflects the highest confidence score in 12 years, exceeding their expectations from the start of the year.
Experts also showed strong confidence for the current May-August 2017 period, which includes the peak tourism season in most of the world’s major tourism destinations.