Resilient travellers boost UNWTO data as WTTC firms with 2012 forecast

Posted: November 11, 2012 in travel & tourism

Global travellers continue to show their resilience as international tourist arrivals grew by 4 per cent between January and August 2012 compared to the same period of 2011, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

On its part, the world’s largest private sector umbrella travel and tourism body, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has predicted that the industry in 2012 will be broadly in line with expectations it had set at the beginning of the year.

With a record 705 million tourists up to August 2012, UNWTO remains confident that one billion international tourists will have travelled the world by the end of the year.

“This growth is a very positive result in view of the global economic situation. We must remain cautious, however, as we have also observed some weaker months during the year, a trend that might return in the remainder of the year,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Remarkably, the United Nations body said destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria (+4 per cent) continued to show very positive results, consolidating the good growth rates of previous years, just as it further noted that the +6 per cent growth of the rest of Africa, is clearly reflected in the results of North Africa (+10 per cent), as is the rebound of Egypt in the performance of the Middle East (-1 per cent as compared to a decline of 7 per cent in 2011).

Growth slowed down in June (+2.7 per cent) and July (+1.4 per cent) as compared the first five months of the year (average of 5 per cent), yet recovered in August at 4 per cent, a positive result for the month that accounts for the highest volume of international tourism in the year.

UNWTO expects growth of 3 per cent to 4 per cent for the year as a whole, while forecasting a slight slowdown in demand for 2013 (+2 per cent to 4 per cent).

Emerging economies (+5 per cent) have clearly regained the lead in international tourism arrivals as compared to advanced ones (+4 per cent).

By regions, growth was stronger in Asia and the Pacific and Africa, followed by the Americas and Europe. The Middle East continues to show signs of recovery, with particularly promising results in Egypt.

Meanwhile, in an update of forecasts made at the beginning of the year, WTTC predicts travel and tourism growth globally of 2.7 per cent, only slightly downgraded from the 2.8 per cent that was expected for the industry at the beginning of the year. The main reasons for the marginal downgrade are that WTTC now expects world GDP growth to be 2.3 per cent in 2012, down 0.2 per cent from the beginning of the year, and the continuing problems in the eurozone.

South Korea’s annual travel and tourism GDP growth of 13.2 per cent is the highest of any G20 country, while Italy is currently showing the weakest performance of any G20 country, with a 2.8 per cent decrease in travel and tourism GDP now expected in 2012.

Other highlights of the report include that; the volume of travel and tourism movements has been positive so far in 2012 and has exceeded expectations from the start of the year. International tourist arrivals have grown 4.9 per cent in the year from January to June, airline passenger traffic is up 6.8 per cent and hotel occupancy rates are up in many markets apart from Southern Europe.

It also predicted that the best-performing countries for international tourist arrivals remain those rebounding from difficult times in 2010 and 2011. In the period from January to June this year, Japan’s arrival figures were up 44.4 per cent, Tunisia was up 41.7 per cent and Egypt was up 23.4 per cent. South Korea, where visitors from its main market of Japan stayed home after the tsunami, has also been strong this year with arrivals figures increasing 21.8 per cent year to date.

And lastly that although international visitor arrival figures are looking robust, there is evidence of declines both in terms of average spend and hotel average daily room rates in some regions, notably Europe and Northern and Southern Africa.

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