Travel

One billion international tourists expected this year

File photo of a tourist destination — the beach of Morro Jable on the Canary Island in Spain. — Picture courtesy of shutterstock.comFile photo of a tourist destination — the beach of Morro Jable on the Canary Island in Spain. — Picture courtesy of shutterstock.comMEXICO CITY, May 17 — More than one billion tourists will take a trip this year crossing an international boundary, a threshold never before reached, UN officials told a meeting tourism ministers gathering in Mexico this week.

“We will have more than a billion tourists, that means one-seventh of humanity. This has never happened in history,” said Taleb Rifai, head of the UN World Tourism Organisation, on Tuesday speaking to tourism ministers from the G20 countries.

The number of international tourist arrivals is expected to rise in 2012 by 3-4 per cent, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year, according to WTO figures, rising from some 980 million tourist arrivals recorded in 2011.

International tourism grew by 5.7 per cent in the first two months of 2012, the agency said, surpassing 131 million in January and February, up from 124 million in the same period last year.

The ministerial meeting, in the resort town of Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan, is focusing on strategies to combat barriers to the free movement of tourists around the world. — AFP-Relaxnews