General Travel News

International tourism to reach one billion in 2012

International tourist arrivals grew by over 4% in 2011 to 980 million, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. With growth expected to continue in 2012, at a somewhat slower rate, international tourist arrivals are on track to reach the milestone one billion mark later this year.


International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010, in a year characterised by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and natural disasters in Japan. By region, Europe (+6%) was the best performer, while by subregion South-America (+10%) topped the ranking. Contrary to previous years, growth was higher in advanced economies (+5.0%) than in emerging ones (+3.8%), due largely to the strong results in Europe, and the setbacks in the Middle East and North Africa.


“International tourism hit new records in 2011 despite the challenging conditions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “For a sector directly responsible for 5% of the world’s GDP, 6% of total exports and employing one out of every 12 people in advanced and emerging economies alike these results are encouraging, coming as they do at a time in which we urgently need levers to stimulate growth and job creation,” he added.


Europe surpasses the half billion mark in 2011


Despite persistent economic uncertainty, tourist arrivals to Europe reached 503 million in 2011, accounting for 28 million of the 41 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Mediterranean destinations (+8% each) experienced the best results. Although part of the growth in Southern Mediterranean Europe resulted from a shift in traffic away from the Middle East and North Africa, destinations in the Mediterranean also profited from improved outbound flows from markets such as Scandinavia, Germany and the Russian Federation.


Asia and the Pacific (+6%) was up 11 million arrivals in 2011, reaching a total 216 million international tourists. South Asia and South-East Asia (both +9%) benefited from strong intraregional demand, while growth was comparatively weaker in North-East Asia (+4%) and Oceania (+0.3%), partly due to the temporary decline in the Japanese outbound market.


The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 156 million in total. South America, up by 10% for the second consecutive year, continued to lead growth. Central America and the Caribbean (both +4%) maintained the growth rates of 2010. North America, with a 3% increase, hit the 100 million tourists mark in 2011.


Africa maintained international arrivals at 50 million, as the gain of two million by Sub-Saharan destinations (+7%) was offset by the losses in North Africa (-12%). The Middle East (-8%) lost an estimated 5 million international tourist arrivals, totalling 55 million. Nevertheless, some destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates sustained steady growth.


Receipts confirm positive trend in arrivals


Available data on international tourism receipts and expenditure for 2011 closely follows the positive trend in arrivals.


Among the top ten tourist destinations, receipts were up significantly in the USA (+12%), Spain (+9%), Hong Kong (China) (+25%) and the UK (+7%). The top spenders were led by emerging source markets – China (+38%), Russia (+21%), Brazil (+32%) and India (+32%) – followed by traditional markets, with the growth in expenditure of travelers from Germany (+4%) and the USA (+5%) above the levels of previous years.


International tourism on course to hit one billon in 2012


UNWTO forecasts international tourism to continue growing in 2012 although at a slower rate. Arrivals are expected to increase by 3% to 4%, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year. Emerging economies will regain the lead with stronger growth in Asia and the Pacific and Africa (4% to 6%), followed by the Americas and Europe (2% to 4%). The Middle East (0% to +5%) is forecast to start to recover part of its losses from 2011.


These prospects are confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. The 400 UNWTO Panel of Experts from around the globe, expects the tourism sector to perform positively in 2012, though somewhat weaker than last year.


Governments urged to facilitate travel


As destinations worldwide look to stimulate travel demand under pressing economic conditions, UNWTO is urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation, an area in which in spite of the great strides made so far there is still much room for progress. UNWTO advises countries to make the most of information and communication technologies in improving visa application and processing formalities, as well as the timings of visa issuance, and to analyze the possible impact of travel facilitation in increasing their tourism economies.


“Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be key in boosting demand. This area is of particular relevance in a moment in which governments are looking to stimulate economic growth but cannot make major use of fiscal incentives or public investment,” said Mr. Rifai.

More General Travel News
Constance Halaveli Maldives offers the luxury of space in seclusion
Multiple Langham Hotels named in 2020 Readers' Choice Award
Swiss Belhotel to open 4 new hotels in the GCC
Latest Travel News
Multiple Langham Hotels named in 2020 Re...
Swiss Belhotel to open 4 new hotels in t...
Abu Dhabi and Wizz Air announce establis...
Featured Sights To See
Hala Sultan Tekke

Hala Sultan Tekke

Larnaca, Cyprus

Believed to be the site of the grave of Umm Haram, the wife of Ubada bin al-Samit, Hala Sultan Tekke is a prominent shrine for Muslims. The tombs were discovered around the 18th century, and have attracted lots of visitors since. The grave and tomb has now been transformed into a magnificent mosque on its premises, with an extensive octagonal fountain structure next to it. The site is visited by t...

Royal Regalia

Royal Regalia

Brunei Darussalam, Brunei

Address: Bandar Seri Begawan    Brunei Darussalam Tel: 22 44545 201 Opening Time: Saturday to Thursday: 8:30am - 5pm                      Friday: 9am - 11:30am & 2:30pm - 5pm Entrance is free A museum near the city centre that was built in 1992 to commemorate the silver anniversary of the sultan and is dedicated to Brunei’s Royal family. It has displays of the royal accessori...

Palace of Nymphenburg

Palace of Nymphenburg

Munich, Germany

This was the Wittlesbachs summer residence. Elector Ferdinand Maria commissioned the building of the Palace in 1664. Its center is a small Italianate palace which the Electress Adelaide dedicated to the goddess Flora and her nymphs – which is where the palace’s name comes from.   Timings: Oct-Mar daily 10.00 – 16.00 Apr-Sept daily 9.00 – 18.00 Admission: €5 for adults, ...

Jackson Park

Jackson Park

Chicago, United States

Jackson Park was designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1871.  It was the main site for the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, but little evidence remains as all the buildings have been demolished since.  Jackson Park was originally supposed to be part of a grand South Park, encompassing both it and Washington Park, connected by a canal running through the Midway Plai...