UNWTO: Sustained growth in most destinations in the Americas
According to the UNWTO, the Americas welcomed 207 million international tourists in 2017, a rise of 3% overall, with most destinations enjoying solid results, led by South America (+7%).
Central America and the Caribbean both grew 4%, with the latter showing clear signs of recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. In North America (+2%), robust results in Mexico and Canada contrast with a decrease in the United States, the region’s largest destination. The decline in arrivals to the United States also weighed down the region’s average. By contrast, strong demand from the United States and Canada, as well as longhaul source markets, continued to benefit many destinations in the region.
International tourist arrivals in North America grew by an estimated 2%, somewhat below the performance in 2016 (+3%). Mexico (+12%) led results in the subregion, while Canada reported 4% growth, both driven by solid demand from the United States and other major source markets. By contrast, international arrivals to the United States declined by 4% through July. Travel to the US from Canada, the Republic of Korea and a few European markets still grew, but insufficiently to offset the declines from Mexico and overseas markets in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and other markets in Europe and Asia and the Pacific.
In South America (+7%), the growth momentum continued in 2017, led by Paraguay (+25% through September) and Colombia (+23%), the latter boasting its fourth straight year of double-digit growth. Uruguay (+21%) continued to benefit from promotional actions in bordering source markets and tax-free benefits for tourists. Chile and Ecuador both recorded 14% growth in arrivals last year. Ecuador rebounded from weak results in 2016 due to the earthquake that hit the country’s central coast. In Peru, international arrivals increased 6%, while Guyana received 3% more arrivals through July. Argentina reported flat growth in 2017, with a weak start of the year, though results improved from the second quarter onwards. Arrivals data for Brazil, the subregion’s largest destination, is still pending. However, receipts data point to a decrease.
Central America recorded a 4% increase in arrivals in 2017, led by Nicaragua (+22%), which is enjoying strong demand from regional markets. Guatemala (+9%), Belize and El Salvador (both +8%) also posted solid growth. Honduras recorded 3% more arrivals, a similar increase as in 2016. Results in top destination Costa Rica (+1%) were more modest due to a decline in visitors from the United States, while Panama reported 12% fewer arrivals.