International tourist arrivals increased by 4 percent in the first half of 2019, according to figures published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Monday.
The UNWTO, headquartered in the Spanish capital of Madrid, reported that in the first six months of this year destinations worldwide received 671 million international tourist arrivals, “almost 30 million more than in the same period of 2018.”
Growth was led by the Middle East with an eight percent increase, followed by the Asia-Pacific region with six percent growth.
A 14 percent increase in Chinese outbound tourism was the main reason for the growth in the Asia-Pacific region, although the UNWTO pointed out that spending by Chinese tourists was 4 percent down in real terms in the first quarter of the year.
The organization speculated that “trade tensions with the USA as well as the slight depreciation of the yuan may influence destination choice by Chinese travelers in the short term”.
Europe registered four-percent growth,while the increase was three percent in Africa and two percent in the Americas.
The UNWTO attributed the steady growth in international tourism to a combination of factors, which include “a strong economy, affordable air travel, increased air connectivity and enhanced visa facilitation”.
Nevertheless, the report warned that other factors, such as “weaker economic indicators, prolonged uncertainty about Brexit, trade and technological tensions and rising geopolitical challenges” could have an effect on business and consumer confidence and a more “cautious” environment would have a negative effect on further growth.
Last year saw a six-percent growth in international tourist numbers, according to UNWTO figures, with 1.4 billion people spending at least one night in a foreign country.