According a report issued by the UNTWO – United Nations World Tourism Organization – this January, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) grew by 4% in 2012 surpassing a record 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in history. Asia and the Pacific saw the highest growth of all regions with 7% more international tourists. With an additional 39 million tourists, international arrivals reached 1,035 million, up from 996 million in 2011. Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter.
Despite ongoing economic challenges, the growth of international arrivals worldwide is expected to continue in 2013 at a similar to slightly slower pace (+3% to +4%) and in line with UNWTO’s long-term outlook Tourism Towards 2030, which projects an average growth of 3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020.
International tourist arrivals to Europe, the most visited region in the world, were up by 3%; a very positive result in view of the economic situation, and following a strong 2011 (+6%). Accounting for slightly over half of all international arrivals worldwide, Europe reached 535 million tourist arrivals in 2012, some 17 million more than in 2011.
Western Europe posted a 3% increase in arrivals with the best results for Germany (+7%) and Austria (5%). Northern Europe saw only a modest 0.4% increase in arrivals due to negative figures in Norway and Sweden, and zero growth in the UK and Ireland.
Destinations in Southern Mediterranean Europe (+2%) consolidated their excellent performance of 2011 and returned in 2012 to their normal growth rates. Of the larger destinations, Croatia (+4%), Portugal (+4%), Spain (+3%) and Turkey (+1%) recorded growth in arrivals, while Italy was flat (0%) and Greece negative (-6%).
For a copy of the report, go to www.unwto.org