United Nations WTO: 460m tourists this summer

By Kevin Rozario |

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is expecting over 460m tourists to travel abroad in the crucial May-August 2014 period, based on international demand so far this year – and Europe will be the prime beneficiary of their spending.


UNWTO says: “Prospects for the current peak tourism season remain very positive. Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai (below), comments: “The encouraging start to 2014 and the overall positive sentiment in the sector raise high expectations for the current peak tourism season.”


The four months from May to August account, on average, for 41% of all international tourist arrivals across the year. According to the UNWTO Confidence Index, prospects for the period are very strong with confidence up, particularly among the private sector, and improved further in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.


Data on international air travel reservations from travel analyst ForwardKeys show bookings for May-August are up by +8% compared to the same period last year, with intra-regional and inter-regional travel equally strong. The highest growth in bookings was recorded in international flight reservations from Asian source markets, followed by the Americas.



In the first four months of 2014 these worldwide arrivals grew by +5% to 317m, the same rate as for the full year 2013. The increase amounts to an extra 14m more travellers.


On the expenditure side from source markets, demand was strongest in January to April from emerging markets, in particular China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India. UNWTO also says that “demand from advanced markets is strengthening as the economic situation improves gradually”. It cites “encouraging growth in expenditure” from Italy, Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.


By region, the strongest growth was in Asia Pacific and the Americas (both +6%), followed closely by Europe and Africa (both at +5%). By sub-region, Northern Europe, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North Africa and South Asia, (all +8%) were the top performers.


The only negative region was the Middle East where international tourist arrivals are estimated to be down by -4%. UNWTO cautions that this figure “is based on limited available data for the region”.


For the full year 2014, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by 4-4.5%. 

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