NAIROBI, SEPTEMBER 4 ― International tourist arrivals grew seven per cent in 2017, the highest increase since 2010, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) latest data shows.
Growth in arrivals was characterized by a strong increase in exports generated by tourism, which reached US$ 1.6 trillion in 2017, making tourism the world’s third-largest export sector.
According to the UNWTO- Tourism Highlights 2018 Edition, international tourist arrivals reached a total of 1.323 billion in 2017, 84 million more than the previous year setting a new record.
The latest developments come as the sector record uninterrupted growth in arrivals for eight straight years.
Europe and Africa were among regions that recorded increased arrivals of eight and nine per cent respectively.
In addition to the US$ 1.3 trillion in receipts that destinations earned, international tourism generated another US$ 240 billion from international passenger transport taken by non-residents.
This raised total tourism exports to US$ 1.6 trillion, which translates to about US$ 4 billion a day. This corresponds to seven per cent of the world’s exports.
“The strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years,” the report notes.
Strong outbound demand from nearly all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies of Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations.
The latest report also indicates that China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent US$ 258 billion on international tourism in 2017.
This is almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017, which stood at US$ 1.3 trillion, some US$ 94 billion more than in 2016.
Among the top markets and destinations in the world was Spain which rose to become the world’s second most-visited destination in terms of international arrivals, after France.
Japan entered the top ten in tourism earnings in tenth place after six straight years of double-digit growth.
The Russian Federation re-entered the top ten of world spenders at eighth place.
2018 data indicates international tourism continues recording a strong growth with an expected year-on-year increase of six per cent in arrivals between January and April.