International tourist arrivals worldwide grew four per cent to 561 million between January and June this year compared to the same period in 2015, with Asia-Pacific showing the strongest growth worldwide.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, Asia-Pacific saw a nine per cent increase in international arrivals through June, surpassing the Americas (four per cent), Europe (three per cent) and Africa (five per cent). Limited data for the Middle East pointed to an estimated nine per cent decrease, though results may vary from destination to destination.
Growth in the Asia-Pacific region was driven by robust intra-regional demand. Oceania (10 per cent) led growth, followed by North-East Asia, South-East Asia (both nine per cent) and South Asia (seven per cent).
Looking at outbound flows in 1H2016, top source market China reported double-digit growth in expenditure on international travel (20 per cent), benefiting destinations in the region and beyond.
The US came in second, seeing an increased expenditure on outbound travel by eight per cent through July, thanks to a strong currency. The third largest market, Germany, reported a 4 per cent increase in expenditure through July.
Meanwhile, expenditure from Russia and Brazil continues to be weak, reflecting the economic constraints and depreciated currencies in both markets.
The study added that prospects for tourist arrivals are positive for the remainder of 2016. Countries that have already reported results till July or August show continued growth in the current Northern Hemisphere summer peak season.
Moreover, the UNWTO Panel of Experts remains confident about the September to December period. Confidence is highest in Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, while experts in Europe and the Middle East are somewhat more cautious.