Middle East leads global tourism arrivals growth in Q1

May 22, 2019 - 19:8

TEHRAN – The Middle East tops international arrivals over the first quarter of 2019, with an eight percent growth year on year, according to the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer from the World Tourism Organization.

The Middle East (+8%) and Asia and the Pacific (+6%) experienced the highest increase in international arrivals. Numbers in both Europe and Africa were up by 4%, and in the Americas, growth was recorded at 3%, unwto.org reported on Tuesday.

Though at a slower rate when compared with the last two years, the 4% increase registered in early 2019 is a very positive sign.

“International tourism continues to perform strongly worldwide fueled by a positive economy, increased air capacity and visa facilitation”, UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“Growth in arrivals is easing slightly after two years of exceptional results, but the sector continues to outpace the global rate of economic growth.”

Europe, the world’s largest tourism region, reported solid growth (+4%), led by destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%).

Growth in Africa was driven by the ongoing recovery in North Africa (+11%). In the Americas, the Caribbean (+17%) rebounded strongly after weak results in 2018, following the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017.

In Asia and the Pacific, results for the first three months showed a 6% increase led by North-East Asia (+9%) and a very solid performance from the Chinese market.

“With this growth comes greater responsibility for translating it into better jobs and better lives”, Mr. Pololikashvili stressed.

“We need to continue investing in innovation, digital transformation and education so that we can harness the many benefits tourism can bring while at the same time mitigating its impact on the environment and society with better management of tourism flows.”

UNWTO forecasts growth of 3% to 4% in international tourist arrivals in 2019.

Iran hosted some 7.8 million foreign nationals over the past Iranian calendar year 1397 (ended March 20), which shows a 52.5 percent increase year on year. International travelers spent some $11.8 billion in the Islamic Republic during the year, according to data compiled by the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.