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International tourism hits 2020 forecast two years early

Last year was a decent year for international tourism, as indicated by another report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

In 2018, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals, the figure UNWTO didn't anticipate that worldwide the travel industry should hit until 2020.

The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, in a statement.

A long-term forecast from the UNWTO in 2010 anticipated 1.4 billion universal landings by 2020. Achieving it two years in front of forecast is due in part to stronger economic growth, greater visa facilitation and more affordable air travel, the report says.

The travel industry to the Middle East and Africa became over the 6% world average, year over year, with a 10% expansion in the Middle East and a 7% bounce in Africa. Asia and the Pacific and Europe both developed by 6%.

The Americas saw development underneath the world average, with a 3% expansion. In the Americas, worldwide entries in Central America and the Caribbean both dropped by 2%. The Caribbean was hard-hit by effects from the September 2017 sea tempests Irma and Maria.

The UNWTOforecast for international tourism in 2019 is expected to be more in line with historical growth trends of 3-4%.

Brexit uncertainty, an economic slowdown and geopolitical and trade tensions may mean more of a wait and see approach to travel in 2019, the report projects.

However, stable fuel prices, improved air connectivity and strong outbound travel from emerging markets are all considered positive indicators for 2019.

The World Tourism Organization is the UN agency promoting sustainable, responsible and universally accessible tourism.