Where do you want to go next? Photo: Unsplash

World tourism growth slowed in 2019, thanks to a slow world economy, with Brexit and protests in Hong Kong heavily affecting travel rates. According to the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of international tourist arrivals rose by 4% last year to 1.5 billion, its slowest rate since 2016.

Britain’s looming departure from the European Union had generated “strong uncertainty” and “has impacted its economy, which has impacted the value of its currency” leading to fewer British nationals going abroad on holidays, said Sandra Carvao, Chief of UNTWO Tourism Marketing and Intelligence.

In comparison, tourist numbers grew by 6% in 2018 and by 7% in 2017 as ttavelers returned to sun-kissed destinations in the eastern Mediterranean such as Turkey and Egypt after several years of staying away due to security concerns. Apart from Brexit and Hong Kong protests, an economic slowdown in Germany and the collapse of Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel form, had also contributed to the slowdown.

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A well-traveled passport. Photo: Unsplash

Tourism growth in 2019

Despite the overall slowdown, tourist arrivals in Europe rose by 4% in 2019. It remained the most visited region in the world, accounting for 51% of all international tourist arrivals last year, or 743 million people. However, the number was down from 6% in the previous year.

Arrivals in the Asia-Pacific region rose by 5% compared to 7% in 2018 as Hong Kong was rocked by political protests which caused hotel occupancy rates to slump. Similarly, Africa posted a 4% rise in tourist arrivals, down from 9% in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Americas showed a mixed bag as many island destinations in the Caribbean consolidated their recovery after the 2017 hurricanes. But arrivals fell in South America due partly to ongoing social and political turmoil.

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The island life will always remain popular. Photo: Unsplash


However, the Middle East proved to be one bright spot as tourist arrivals in the region jumped by 8% in 2019, up from 3% percent in the previous year. This was due to Saudi Arabia’s plan to draw foreign visitors.

As for 2020, time will tell if world tourism growth continues can bounce back from a slightly disappointing year. For those looking to help contribute to the growth, check out these amazing places to call a home away from home.

Source: AFP Relax News