The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced that a total of 298 million international tourists travelled around the world in the first quarter of 2013, a full 12 million more than in the same period of 2012, which translates to a 4.3-per-cent increase. This is according to the UNWTO’s latest World Tourism Barometer, which suggests that despite ongoing economic challenges, prospects for tourism are extremely positive. It is expected that 435 million tourists will have travelled overseas in the period from May to August.
“International tourism continues to show an extraordinary dynamism,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the UNWTO. “The 4.3-per-cent growth in the number of international tourists crossing borders in the first months of 2013 confirms that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of our times, contributing in a central manner to the economy of a growing number of countries.”
The barometer recorded stronger growth in emerging economies compared with advanced ones, a now familiar trend. The highest growth, predictably, was recorded in the Asia-Pacific region (a six-per-cent increase in numbers), although Europe remained the world’s most visited region, with a five-per-cent rise in recorded arrivals. The general outlook for world tourism has been confirmed by the UNWTO’s Panel of Experts Confidence Index survey, which suggests sustained confidence for the peak travel period, with minor fluctuations in individual markets.