World tourism soars to a record 900 million arrivals in 2007, 52 million more than in 2006
Tue 29 Jan 2008 – The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a UN agency, reports that 2007 exceeded expectations for international tourism with arrivals reaching close to 900 million, compared with 800 million just two years ago. Although economic volatility and high oil prices may undermine global confidence, the organization says the sector has a proven resilience and does not expect growth to halt in 2008.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism arrivals expanded by 6% in 2007 to reach 898,000, with most regions experiencing significant growth.
Of the additional 52 million worldwide arrivals, Europe received some 19 million and Asia Pacific 17 million. The Americas was up by around six million, Africa by three million and the Middle East by five million.
The latter’s 46 million international tourist arrivals in 2007 continues to surprise, given the region’s tensions, and is climbing at a faster rate than other regions, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt among the leading destinations in growth terms.
With an annual average growth of 7% since 2000, Asia Pacific attracted some 185 million visitors last year. While Japan (+14%) has taken off as a destination, Malaysia (+20%), Cambodia (+19%), Vietnam (+16%), Indonesia (+15%), India (+13%) and China (+10%) keep improving their growth rates.
Tourism to Africa continued its momentum of sustained growth, averaging 7% since 2000, and received an estimated 44 million travellers in 2007. North Africa (+8%) appears to have done slightly better than sub-Saharan Africa (+7%), primarily due to Morocco’s 14% rise, although South Africa has continued to grow.
The Americas more than doubled its growth rate after the 2% growth of 2006. The rebound of the US inbound market (+10%), backed by a weak dollar, and a strong demand for Central and South American destinations, were also helped by steady tourism flows from the United States.
Europe, the world’s largest destination region with a share of over 50% of all international tourist arrivals, is growing at an above-average rate and totalled 480 million tourists in 2007. Leading the pack were Turkey (+18%), Greece (+12%) and Portugal (+10%), along with Italy and Switzerland (both +7%).
UNWTO promotes the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.
The Organization encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, with a view to ensuring that member countries, tourist destinations and businesses maximize the positive economic, social and cultural effects of tourism and fully reap its benefits, while minimizing its negative social and environmental impacts.
Last year, UNWTO laid out its Davos Declaration which “urges action by the entire tourism sector to face climate change as one of the greatest challenges to sustainable development, and to the Millennium Development Goals in the 21st Century.” Among its aims for the tourism sector are to:
·mitigate its Greenhouse Gas emissions, derived especially from transport and accommodation activities;
·adapt tourism businesses and destinations to changing climate conditions;
·apply existing and new technology to improve energy efficiency; and
·secure financial resources to help poor regions and countries.