Middle East tourism rebounds strongly after slump
UNWTO figures suggest resurgence after three years of declining numbers
After three years of declining figures, tourism numbers have rebounded this year, with data from a United National agency showing 4% growth in the first 10 months of 2014.
The resurgence in the region comes amid solid increases globally, with over 1.1 billion international tourists expected to have travelled around the world by the end of the year, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Organization; this despite ongoing economic, geopolitical and health challenges.
It its latest World Tourism Barometer, the United National special agency said international tourist numbers grew by 4.7% in the first ten months of the year, up to 978 million and “above expectations”.
By region, the strongest growth was registered in the Americas (+8%), followed by Asia and the Pacific (+5%) and Europe (+4%). By subregion, North America (+9%) and South Asia (+8%) were the best performers, as well as Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North-East Asia and Northern Europe (all +7%).
Meanwhile, in the Middle East international tourist arrival numbers are rebounding after three years of declines and are estimated to be up by 4% in the first ten months of 2014, rebounding on the declines registered since 2011.
All destinations in the region with data available have reported positive growth, with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia all “substantially improving” upon their performance in 2013.
“In view of this trend, international tourism is set to end 2014 with record numbers”, said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai.
“These are remarkable results considering that different parts of the world continue to face significant geopolitical and health challenges, while the global economic recovery remains rather fragile and uneven.
“More importantly, we see a growing political commitment to the tourism sector in many countries. This is encouraging, not in the least because tourism is one of the sectors that is best able to deliver on employment at a moment when job creation need to be a priority to all.”