1 Billion Global Tourists

International tourist arrivals grew 5 percent year-on-year in 2013, reaching a record 1.087 billion arrivals, according to the latest World Tourism Barometer of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4 percent to 4.5 percent growth.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6 percent), Africa (+6 percent) and Europe (+5 percent). The leading sub-regions were Southeast Asia (+10 percent), Central and Eastern Europe (+7 percent), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6 percent) and North Africa (+6 percent).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies.”

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase in 2014.  The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years.

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth,” said Mr. Rifai.

The 2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5 percent to +6 percent) and Africa (+4 percent to +6 percent), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3 percent to +4 percent). In the Middle East (0 percent to +5 percent) prospects are positive yet volatile.

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