World tourism to hit 1b arrivals in 2012
NEW YORK, Sept 15 — With a record 467 million tourists travelling in the first half of 2012, international tourism could reach one billion tourists by the end of the year, predicted the UNWTO this week.
Despite concerns over the global economy, international tourism shows no sign of slowing down. The number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5 per cent between January and June 2012 compared to the same period of 2011 — amounting to 22 million more.
Though a slowdown in growth was predicted for the rest of the year, international arrivals will likely exceed one billion by the end of 2012.
The rise was led by Asia (+8 per cent), where Japan was the main driving force (+8 per cent), overcoming the natural disasters that struck in 2011. In Africa, the number of tourists has also significantly grown (+7 per cent), thanks to the return of the tourists in Northern African countries (+11 per cent), mainly Tunisia.
In Europe, demand grew by 4 per cent, supported by Eastern and Central European streams (+7 per cent) while harshly hurt by the crisis Mediterranean countries have seen their frequentation only grow by 1 per cent.
Tourists were also attracted to the American continent (+5 per cent), especially by Central America (+7 per cent) and South America (+6 per cent), compared to a 4 per cent growth in the older Northern American market.
Tourists from China and Russia generated a two-figure progression, while demand was stable for traditional markets like France, Britain, Italy and Australia.
Last year, international tourist arrivals reached 990 million, which means the UNWTO expects a growth of 3 to 4 per cent in 2012. — AFP-Relaxnews