Skift Take

International tourism continues to climb on par with previous expectations; however, slowed growth in outbound travel from emerging markets is a pernicious trend to keep track of.

International travel is growing, as expected, with 517 million international tourists crossing borders in the first six months of 2014, according to data released today by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

That means 22 million more travelers have visited a foreign country between January and June than in the same period last year.

Growth was fairly consistent across the board with the Americas, Europe and Asia all posting between 5 percent and 8 percent arrival increases year-over-year.

The greatest growth for particular regions was reported in South Asia and Northern Europe, which each experienced 8-percent spike in visitation.

Japan, Korea and Malaysia all posted double-digits growth rates fueled in large part in regional tourism activity.

The only region to report a decrease in visitation is the Middle East, which, the UNWTO warns, could be caused be a lack of data available in the region.

Source Markets

Traditionally strong source markets including Australia, U.S., and Canada continue to show a rebound in travel spend abroad thanks to still improving economies; however, demand growth in emerging markets such as China and Russia has decelerated over the part year.

For example, Chinese outbound expenditure grew 16 percent in the first half of the year compared to 26 percent in the whole of 2013 and expenditure out of Russia grew 4 percent as compared to 25 percent last year.

This is an important trend to track as many destinations and travel companies have started to alter their product offerings and communications to meet the needs of these emerging markets.

Tourist arrival growth for regions and subregions worldwide for the first six months of 2014 is shown below:

Region Growth (% Y-o-Y)
Americas + 6%
North America + 6%
Central America + 6%
South America + 6%
Caribbean + 5%
Asia and the Pacific + 5%
South Asia + 8%
North-East Asia + 7%
Europe + 5%
Northern Europe + 8%
Southern Mediterranean Europe + 7%
Africa + 3%
North Africa + 4%
Middle East -4%

Source: UNWTO

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Tags: china outbound, skiftstats, tourism, unwto

Photo Credit: Advance for Thailand Challenging Chinese, in this photo taken March 30, 2014, Chinese tourists pose for photograph at the main entrance to Chiang Mai university in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand. Apichart Weerawong) / Associated Press