International tourist arrivals exceeded one billion for the first time last year, with the Asia-Pacific region posting the biggest increase in foreign visitors, and numbers are expected to rise further in 2013.
The number of international tourist arrivals grew by 4% to 1.035-billion in 2012, up from 996-million in 2011, according to a survey conducted by the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Global tourism figures were hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, with the rise in international arrivals that year slowing to 2.1 percent after jumping 6.6 percent in the previous year.
The Asia-Pacific region posted the largest growth in visitor arrivals last year with the number of foreign tourists up by 14 million or 6.5 percent to 233 million. Growth in the number of foreign visitors was highest in Southeast Asia, with the number of arrivals up by 8.7 percent over 2011. Asia and Africa are expected to post the greatest growth in tourist numbers in 2013.
The forecast of continued growth in international tourist arrivals next year comes a week after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted the global economy will grow slightly less in 2013 than expected. The UN World Tourism Organisation predicts international tourist arrivals will rise by an average of 3.8 percent each year between 2010 and 2020 and will reach 1.8-billion in 2030.