International tourism on a high

INTERNATIONAL tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent to 980 million in 2011, up from 939 million the year before, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

Tourist arrivals to Europe reached 503 million (+6.0 per cent) in 2011, accounting for 28 million of the 41 million additional international arrivals recorded worldwide. Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Southern Mediterranean destinations (+8.0 per cent each) recorded the best results.

Arrivals to Asia-Pacific (+6.0 per cent) were up by 11 million in 2011, reaching a total 216 million international tourists. South Asia and South-east Asia (both +9.0 per cent) benefited from strong intraregional demand, while growth was comparatively weaker in North-east Asia (+4.0 per cent) and Oceania (+0.3 per cent), partly due to the temporary decline in the Japanese outbound market.

Among the top ten tourist destinations, receipts were up significantly in the US (+12 per cent), Spain (+9.0 per cent), Hong Kong (+25 per cent) and the UK (+7.0 per cent).

The top spenders were led by emerging source markets – China (+38 per cent), Russia (+21 per cent), Brazil (+32 per cent) and India (+32 per cent) – followed by traditional markets, with the growth in expenditure of travellers from Germany (+4.0 per cent) and the US (+5.0 per cent) above the levels of previous years.

UNWTO forecasts international tourism to continue growing in 2012, although at a slower rate. Arrivals are expected to increase by three to four per cent, reaching the one billion mark by year-end.

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