Tourism Growth in the Americas Remains Solid

Despite political events which in the short term could affect travel trends to and from the Americas, fundamentals remain positive for the continent

Are the Americas’ tourism destinations at a turning point in 2017? There are both positive and negative elements likely to influence the evolution of visitor arrivals to those markets over the months to come. Last year, preliminary figures from the UNWTO pointed to a growth in the Americas of 4% in total arrivals, increasing by eight million to 201 million, consolidating results from the last two years. From that number, North America continued to have the largest market share within the continent with close to 66% of all arrivals. However, North America recorded the slowest growth within the region at 3.6%.

According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, prospects look good for the Americas with nuances to be introduced linked to specific markets. Europe’s outbound arrivals to the Americas declined by 1% in the first nine months of last year and should remain flat in 2017. Reasons behind the stagnation are the strong Dollar compared to the Euro or to the Pound. On a year-to-year basis, the Euro weakened by 11.5% since January 2015 and by 4% compared to March 2016. On a year-to-year basis, the pound’s slide reached 10.5%.

The UNWTO indicates that South America (+7%) and Central America (+6%) led results January through September 2016, followed by the Caribbean (+4%). In North America (+4%), Canada and Mexico in particular are benefiting from more US outbound travel but inbound travel to the USA has been held back by the strong dollar. Asian demand to the Americas however will probably be the least affected by political turbulence. Last year, Asian demand to the Americas grew by 11% according to IPK, especially as the continent is perceived as generally a safe destination for travel. Canada is for example considered worldwide as one of the safest destination to visit.

If the strong US dollar acts as a deterrent factor for Europeans to travel, it however stimulates intra-Americas travel movements. US outbound within the Americas was up by 7% according to IPK. US travellers are likely to generate a positive impact on the evolution of tourism in the Caribbean, Central and South America. To be monitored however is the future of travel movements between the USA and Mexico