Rise of the globetrotter



Sat, 09 Sep 2017 - 11:37 GMT


Sat, 09 Sep 2017 - 11:37 GMT

 Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia experienced double-digit growth in tourism in the first half of 2017 amid a seven-year first-half high in tourism worldwide Photo: AFP/File

Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia experienced double-digit growth in tourism in the first half of 2017 amid a seven-year first-half high in tourism worldwide Photo: AFP/File

9 September 2017: International tourist numbers grew 6.4 per cent in the first half of 2017, the strongest half-year figures in seven years, with Mediterranean destinations posting double-digit growth, the UN World Tourism Organisation said on Thursday.

The number of international tourists surged to around 598 million between January and June, some 36 million more than during the same period last year, the Madrid-based United Nations body said in a statement. Rising business confidence and strong outbound demand from major source markets such as Britain, China, France and the United States were behind the rise.

"The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Mediterranean destinations reported "particularly strong growth" in the first half of 2017, including those such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, causing a slump in visitors, the organisation said.

Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw a 12 per cent rise in international visitors, North Africa posted a 16 per cent rise and the Middle East recorded an increase of 8.9 per cent.

Tourist arrivals overall in Europe, the world's most-visited region, grew 7.7 per cent.

Africa saw a 7.6-per cent rise in visitor numbers, while Asia and the Pacific posted 5.7-per cent growth.

International arrivals in the Americas were up 3.0 per cent in the first half of the year.

Growth was solid in South America, up by 6.0 per cent, while North America saw just 2.0 per cent growth as a decrease in arrivals in the United States offset robust results for Canada and Mexico. In the whole of 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9 per cent from the previous year to 1.23 billion and the UN body expects the figure to grow by three to four per cent this year.

Meanwhile the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has posted global passenger traffic results for July show strong but moderating demand growth. The Middle East carriers have posted a 4.5 per cent increase in demand for July. This was an acceleration from the 3.6 per cent annual growth seen in June, but was still well off the 5-year average pace of 11.2 per cent. The Middle East to North America market has been affected by a combination of factors in 2017, including the recently-lifted cabin ban on large portable electronic devices, as well as a wider impact from the proposed travel bans to the US. Traffic growth on the Middle East-US route was already slowing in early 2017, in line with a moderation in the pace of expansion of nonstop services flown by the largest Middle Eastern airlines. July capacity climbed 3.6 per cent compared to a year ago and load factor rose 0.7 percentage points to 81.5 per cent.

Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 6.8 per cent, compared to the same month last year, down from 7.7 per cent year-over-year growth recorded in June. All regions reported solid or better growth in passenger volumes over the past year. Capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.1 per cent, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points to a July record of 84.7 per cent.

"As is evidenced by the record high load factor in July, the appetite for air travel remains very strong. However, the stimulus effect of lower fares is softening in the face of rising cost inputs. This suggests a moderating in the supportive demand backdrop," said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata's director general and CEO.

"As the first full month in the summer peak travel season, July is a bellwether month, and demand continues to be very strong. People want to travel and aviation connectivity is vital to the smooth functioning of the global economy. But the economic and social benefits that aviation brings need to be supported by adequate, affordable airport and air traffic management infrastructure. To do this effectively, governments must include aviation's requirements as part of their national economic strategy."

July international passenger demand rose 6.2 per cent compared to July 2016, which was a slow-down compared to the 7.6 per cent growth recorded in June. Total capacity climbed 5.5 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.5 percentage points to 84.6 per cent.

The European carriers posted a 7.5 per cent rise in traffic for July compared to a year ago, down from 8.8 per cent annual growth in June. Capacity rose 5.9 per cent, and load factor climbed 1.3 percentage points to 88.7 per cent, highest among the regions. The economic backdrop in Europe has strengthened; however, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the upward growth in travel demand has moderated sharply since February. The Asia-Pacific airlines' July traffic rose 5.9 per cent over the year-ago period, a deceleration compared to June growth of 8.8 per cent . As with Europe, carriers in the Asia-Pacific region are seeing a slowing of demand growth. Capacity increased 6.7 per cent and load factor slipped 0.6 percentage points to 81.0 per cent.

The North American airlines' traffic climbed 3.5 per cent compared to July a year ago. This was down from 4.4 per cent growth in June, but still ahead of the 5-year average pace (2.9 per cent). Outbound travel is being supported by the relatively solid economic backdrop in North America; however, anecdotal evidence suggests that inbound demand is being negatively influenced by the additional security measures in place for travel to the US. July capacity rose 3.8 per cent with the result that load factor slipped 0.3 percentage points to 85.9 per cent.

The Latin American airlines recorded the strongest growth among regions, posting a 10.5 per cent demand rise compared to July 2016. Capacity increased almost as fast, up 10 per cent and load factor climbed 0.4 percentage points to 84.9 per cent. International volumes between North and Central America continue to strongly trend upward while traffic on the North-South America market segment has also started to trend upwards, in part helped by the healthier, albeit still fragile, economic backdrop in Brazil.

African airlines experienced a 6.5 per cent increase in traffic compared to a year ago, down from 9.8 per cent demand growth in June. Capacity rose 1.7 per cent, and load factor jumped 3.4 percentage points to 74.1 per cent. Conditions in the region's two largest economies continue to diverge, with South Africa in recession while business confidence levels are at a two-year peak in Nigeria.

Domestic passenger markets

Domestic travel demand grew by 7.9 per cent year-on-year in July, in line with eight per cent growth recorded in June. With the exception of Australia, all markets recorded annual increases. China led all markets (+15 per cent). Domestic capacity climbed 7.1 per cent, and load factor rose 0.6 percentage points to 85 per cent.

China's domestic traffic surged 15 per cent in July. Although this was down from the 17.2 per cent growth in June the trend line remains strong, with the latest second quarter GDP figures coming in better than expected. Demand is also being supported by supply factors including a near 15 per cent increase in the number of unique airport-pair routes this year compared to last.

Australia's traffic slipped 0.8 per cent year-on-year but with a 1.9 per cent decline in capacity, load factor actually rose 0.9 percentage points to 80.1 per cent. This marked the first time since 2009 in which the July load factor came in above 80 per cent. - AFP, staff report



Leave a Comment

Be Social