International Tourist Arrivals Never Stopped Growing

The tourism sector confirms its resiliency, data show. In the wake of new geopolitical tensions, social turmoil and a general uncertainty regarding global future outcomes, such as Brexit transition, people still want to travel. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, 2019 was the tenth consecutive year of growth in international tourist arrivals since 2009, although not comparable with the exceptional rates of 2017 (+7%) and 2018 (+6%), signalling a slowdown in terms of growth pace. Nonetheless, 2019 registered a +3.8% growth, with around 1.5 billion arrivals at tourist destinations worldwide.

The UNWTO forecasts for 2019 proved that the growth in international tourist arrivals continued to outpace the world economy (+3.8% vs +3.0%). All regions profited from this growth, especially the Middle East (+8%), followed by Asia and Pacific (+5%). The Americas, on the other hand, recorded just a +2% growth, while Europe and Africa grew by +4%. Despite a positive growth in line with the world average, the European Travel Commission stated that the greatest risk lies in not seizing the opportunities at hand, encouraging more sustainable and inclusive tourism approaches.

As for 2020, a cautious optimism is forecast: according to the UNWTO, whose study predates the outbreak of the corona virus, international tourist arrivals are expected to grow from +3% to +4%, in line with the 2019 forecasts, even if the global economic scenario could undergo some changes. This could lead to a redistribution of travel to other destinations, as already happened in the past, or a more sustained growth as global tensions, such as Brexit or the US-China trade deal, unwind.

At Twissen we observed that, despite the global changes and challenges have affected many sectors of the global economy, the tourism sector is closely linked to a widespread globalization that makes it an ever-increasing phenomenon, where people simply change choice of destination rather than not travelling worldwide due to global risks.