4% rise in international visitor numbers in Americas in first half of 2016

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer reports that international arrivals in the Americas increased by 4% in the first half of 2016, led by Central America and South America. Europe (+3%) showed mixed results, with solid growth in many destinations offset by weaker performance in others.

“Tourism has proven to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “It is creating jobs for millions, at a time when providing perspectives for a better future to people of all regions is one of our biggest challenges. But tourism is also creating bonds among people of all nations and backgrounds, bringing down stereotypes and ghting fear and distrust.”

“Safety and security are key pillars of tourism development and we need to strengthen our common action to build a safe, secure and seamless travel framework. This is no time to build walls or point fingers; it is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility.” he added.

The United States, the world’s second largest market, increased expenditure on outbound travel by 8% through July, thanks to a strong currency. This strong US outbound flow continued to benefit many destinations across the Americas in general. Central America and South America (both +6%) led growth, while arrivals in both the Caribbean and North America grew by 4%.

In Brazil, the summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro of course upwardly impacted tourism figures, and in the longer term, boded well for the city’s tourism thanks to a number of new hotels being built for the event, as well as upgrading of transport facilities. The 541,000 international tourists who entered the country from July 1 to August 15 represented an increase of 157,000 visitors over the same period in 2015. Part of this was due to the visa waiver for visitors from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia that was implemented specifically for the Games. The waiver impacted 74.7% of foreigners who travelled to Brazil to attend Olympic sporting events. The waiver applied only for tourist visits between June 1 and Sept. 18, with visitors allowed to stay for up to 90 days.

Tourist Arrivals in 2015 (mil)

Growth 2014/2015 (%)




North America






Central America



South America



(Source: UNWTO)