Spain to switch USA as second hottest tourism spot

World Tourism hits 7-year high record in 2017 led by arrivals to Med destinations

It is eighth consecutive year, from 2009, in growth of world tourism, although Pololikashvili has highlighted that 2017 was year of greatest growth since 2010.

Global tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 7% in 2017 to reach a total of 1,322 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Spain is set to replace the United States as the world's second tourism destination while France has retained the top spot, the World Tourism Organization said.

Meanwhile, Asia and the Pacific saw a 6% growth year-over-year, while the Middle East saw a 5% increase.

Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe showed extraordinary results for such a large and rather mature region, with 8% more global arrivals than in 2016.

"2017 was characterised by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years", the UNTWO said.

It said this "strong momentum" was expected to continue in 2018, with a growth rate of between 4% and 5%.

Meanwhile, the Middle East recorded five per cent growth with 58 million worldwide tourist arrivals in 2017. In absence of definitive data of 2017, Spain, with 9% growth, has been one of students and, in opinion of Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General, trend will continue in 2018, despite recovery of some competitors, such as Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia.

This contrasts with 2016 figures that saw security fears hit visitor arrivals in Europe.

"International travel continues to grow strongly, consolidating the tourism sector as a key driver in economic development". This is somewhat above the 3.8% average increase projected for the period 2010-2020 by UNWTO in its Tourism Towards 2030 long-term forecast.

In numeric terms, the UNTWO said arrivals to Europe rose to 671 million, larger than those to the Asia Pacific (324 million), Americas (207 million), Africa (62 million) and the Middle East (58 million) combined. Growth was driven by an "extraordinary" +13% rise in tourists in Southern and Mediterranean Europe. Western Europe (+7%). Northern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (both +5%) also recorded robust growth. Spain, which has beaten its record of tourists, with more than 82 million (failing to know official data), but also France, which recovers after hard years after Islamist attacks of Paris and Nice in 2015, have contributed largely to growth European tourist. Arrivals in South Asia grew 10 per cent, eight per cent in South-east Asia, seven per cent in Oceania and three per cent in North-east Asia. Arrivals to Northeast Asia increased by 3%.

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