In the first half of 2019, international tourist arrivals rose by 4.0 percent, but uncertainty over Brexit and trade tensions could hinder growth, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said Monday.
Between January and June, worldwide destinations received 671 million foreign visitors, almost 30 million more than in the same period early this year, according to a statement by Madrid-based United Nations body.
According to the statement, the increase in the international arrivals during the first half of the year was driven by a strong economy, affordable air travel, increased air connectivity and enhanced visa facilitation. It also warned that prolonged uncertainty about Britain’s looming exit from the European Union, global trade tensions, and weaker economic indicators have started to take a toll on business and consumer confidence.
Along with Asia, the Middle East turned out as the biggest tourism growth with 8.0 percent rise in international visitors, due in part to an increase in demand during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as well as during the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday in June. Tourist arrivals in Pacific and Asia rose by 6.0 percent, for the most part, fueled by outbound travel from China.
It warned that Chinese spending on international travel was four percent lower in real terms during the first quarter.
"Trade tensions with the USA, as well as the slight depreciation of the yuan, may influence destination choice by Chinese travelers in the short term," it added.
Tourist arrivals overall in Europe grew four percent, fueled mainly by intra-regional demand and a busy Easter holiday period. Europe is the world’s most-visited region.
For the entire of 2019, the agency predicts the number of international tourist arrivals will grow by three to four percent after increasing by 6.0 percent in 2018 and by 7.0 percent in 2017.
By Sowmya Sangam