International tourism in Europe increased by 4% in the first half of the year

671 million international tourist arrivals were received during the first six months of the year

International tourist arrivals in Europe grew 4% from January to June 2019, compared to the same period of the previous year as reflected in the latest World Tourism Barometer of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The growth was led by the Middle East (8%), Asia and the Pacific (both with 6%), while Africa and the Americas region had a more moderate evolution (3% and 2%, respectively).

Worldwide, destinations received 671 million international tourist arrivals during the first six months of 2019, almost 30 million more than the same period last year, representing a continuation of growth recorded last year.

In this sense, the UNWTO ensures that the increase in tourist arrivals is returning to its historical trend and is in line with the 3% to 4% forecast for the whole year 2019.

The drivers of these results have been a strong economy, affordable air travel, greater air connectivity and greater visa facilitation. Although weaker economic indicators, uncertainty about Brexit, commercial and technological tensions and geopolitical challenges have begun to affect the confidence of companies and consumers.

On a regional level, Europe grew by 4% between January and June 2019, with a positive first quarter followed by a second quarter above the average (April: 8% and June: 6%), due to an active Easter season and the beginning of the summer season in the most visited region in the world. Interregional demand fueled much of this growth, but also foreign markets such as the United States, China, Japan and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Asia and the Pacific, registered a growth above the world average during the period January-June 2019 (6%), driven by one-way trips to China. In this sense, South and Northeast Asia (both with 7%), followed by Southeast Asia (5%) were the leaders of the increase where Oceania experienced a slight increase of 1%.

In the Americas (2%), the results improved in the second quarter after a weak start to the year. The Caribbean, with 11% growth, benefited from strong US demand, continuing its recovery following the impact of hurricanes Irma and María at the end of 2017. North America registered an increase of 2%, while Central America showed results mixed (1%). South America decreased the arrival of international tourism by 5% due to the drop in outbound trips from Argentina, which also affected neighboring destinations.

Africa, with a 3% increase in international tourism, had greater momentum in the north (9%), a solid record after two years in double-digit figures, while growth in sub-Saharan Africa was flat (0%).

For its part, the Middle East (8%) experienced two strong quarters, reflecting a positive winter season, in addition to the increase in demand during the month of Ramadan in May and Eid A-Fitr in June.

UNEQUAL RESULT IN THE ISSUER MARKETS.

Chinese outbound tourism, with 14% on trips abroad, continued to drive arrivals to many destinations in the region during the first half of the year, although during the first quarter spending was 4% lower in real terms. Commercial tensions with the United States and the slight depreciation of the yuan have been able to influence the choice of destinations for Chinese travelers in the short term.

Travel from the United States, the second largest issuer in terms of spending, remained strong (7%), backed by a strong dollar. In Europe, international tourism spending in France and Italy (8% and 7%, respectively) was solid, although the United Kingdom (3%) and Germany (2%) report more moderate figures.

Japan’s spending (11%) was the second strongest among Asian markets, while the Republic of Korea spent 8% less in the first half of 2019, due to the depreciation of the Korean won. In Oceania, Australia spent 6% more on international tourism.