UNWTO confidence index However, some large emerging markets, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia, have reported reductions in tourism costs. China, the world’s largest outbound market, saw an 2019 percent increase in outbound travel in the first half of 14, although spending fell 4 percent. Responsible growth Predictions of international tourist arrivals Tourism provides “much needed opportunities” In 2019, 1,5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded globally. This is an increase of 4 percent compared to the previous year, and the same is projected for 2020, which confirms tourism as the leading economic sector, especially given the current uncertainties. This growth must be managed responsibly to make the most of the opportunities that tourism can create for communities around the world. Source / photo: World Tourism Organization Presenting the results, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “in times of uncertainty and instability, tourism remains a reliable economic sector“. In light of the recently declining global economic prospects, international trade tensions, social unrest and geopolitical insecurity, “our sector is constantly surpassing the world economy and invites us not only to grow, but to grow for the betterHe added. Given the position of tourism as a top export sector and job creator, the UNWTO advocates the need for responsible growth. Tourism, therefore, has a place at the heart of global development policies and an opportunity to gain additional political recognition and make a real impact. You can find more about the world’s latest tourist barometer HERE. In 2019, the Middle East became the fastest growing region in terms of international tourist arrivals, growing almost twice the global average (+ 8%). Growth in Asia and the Pacific is somewhat slower, but it still showed above-average growth with 5 percent more international arrivals. International tourist arrivals Europe, where growth has also been slower than in previous years (+ 4%), remains the leader in terms of international arrivals, recording 743 million international tourists last year (51% of the global market). The Americas (+ 2%) showed a mixed picture as many island destinations in the Caribbean accelerated their recovery after the 2017 hurricane, while arrivals in South America declined in part due to constant social and political turmoil. Limited data available for Africa (+ 4%) indicate a solid increase in North Africa (+ 9%), while arrivals in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019 grew somewhat more slowly (+ 1,5%). Spending in tourism remains high “The number of destinations earning a billion dollars or more from international tourism has almost doubled since 1998”, Adds Pololikashvili. “The challenge we face is to ensure that the benefits are shared as widely as possible and that no one is left behind. This year, the UNWTO is celebrating the Year of Tourism and Rural Development and we hope to witness positive changes in rural communities in our sector, job creation and opportunities, leading economic growth and preserving culture.” In the context of a global slowdown in economic growth, tourism consumption continued to grow, especially among the top ten consumers in the world. France reported the strongest increase in international tourism spending among the top ten world exit markets (+ 11%), while the United States (+ 6%) led in absolute growth, aided by a strong dollar. Looking ahead, growth is projected at 3 to 4 percent for 2020. This is a look that is reflected in the most current UNWTO confidence index, which shows cautious optimism: 47 percent of participants believe that tourism will achieve better results, and 43 percent believe that it will be at the same level as in 2019. Major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, and cultural events, such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, are expected to have a positive impact on the sector. The Middle East is leading According to the first comprehensive report on global tourism figures and trends of the new decade, the latest tourism barometer of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), last year was the tenth year in a row that growth was recorded. All regions recorded an increase in international arrivals in 2019. However, uncertainty over Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions, and a slowdown in the global economy have contributed to slower growth in 2019 compared to exceptional rates in 2017 and 2018. This slowdown has affected mainly more advanced economies, in particular Europe, Asia and the Pacific.