UNWTO report said that the international tourism rates fell four percent last year, the slowest growth since 2016, according to the World Tourism Organization.
The agency under the United Nations (UN), known as the UNWTO, said this was due to the global economic downturn, geopolitical tensions and uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
The UNWTO predicts that the global tourism industry will grow at three to four percent this year, driven by major sporting and cultural events such as the Tokyo Olympics in Japan.
International tourist attendance reached 1.5 billion last year, up from 1.4 billion in 2018, a six percent growth in 2018, seven percent in 2017 and four percent in 2016.
UNWTO Head of Market Research, Sandra Carvao, said the decline was directly related to the global economy which recorded growth of about three per cent.
Significant uncertainties over Britain’s departure from the EU, the geopolitical tension and the collapse of British travel operator Thomas Cook have also been factors.
“However, 2017 and 2018 registered high growth rates for tourists, indicating that the sector is recovering,” she said.
Europe and Asia Pacific are the worst affected regions due to a reduction in tourist arrivals with Europe falling four percent in 2019 compared to six percent in 2018.
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Asia Pacific is up five per cent in 2019 compared to seven per cent in 2018 due to ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
Africa, on the other hand, registered four percent growth, down from nine percent growth in 2018.
West Asia recorded a positive increase last year by eight percent, compared to three percent in 2018, largely due to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to attract more tourists.
The UNWTO expects France, Spain and the United States (US) to remain the top three countries receiving the most tourists last year, after the final count is reached.
In 2018, France ranks top with 89 million arrivals, followed by Spain and the US.