The top five destinations in the world are
Paris, London, New York, Mediterranean resort Antalya, Turkey, and Singapore,
the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.
While the United States and France remain
the two largest destinations for world travel, experts say much of the
explosive growth in tourism has been to countries such as Guatemala, the
Dominican Republic, and the Ivory Coast, which were off the world tourism map a
A record 1 billion people will travel
across an international border as a tourist in 2012, according to the World
Travel & Tourism Council.
means that one in seven people on the planet will participate in world
traveling this year, an activity that just a few decades ago was exclusively
for the wealthy. The reasons for the upswing range from prosperity in
developing countries like China to a perception of a more peaceful world.
The London-based council, whose members
include executives of travel companies, compiles global travel data including
international airport traffic and visa records. It calculates that the 1
billionth tourist will cross an international boundary on Dec. 13.
"This is an astounding milestone,"
David Scowsill, president of the council, said in a telephone interview.
"There is an inexorable growth in the number of people who want to travel
around the world."
While evidence of leisure travel can be
traced to ancient Babylon, it began to grow swiftly after World War Two. For
the U.S. middle class, it became routine after airline deregulation began in
the late 1970s when airlines were forced to compete on prices, said David
Bojanic, a professor of tourism studies at the University of Texas San Antonio.
The inflation-adjusted cost of a plane
ticket from New York to London today is about one-fourth what it was in 1960,
Several factors are responsible for the
boom in world travel, including prosperity that has lifted tens of millions of
people in Asia from poverty into the middle class, whetting their desire to use
their new wealth to travel.
The number of people traveling
internationally from China, for instance, has jumped from 58 million in 2010 to
72 million this year, Scowsill said.
Another factor is the perception that the
world is a more peaceful place, even though many regional conflicts continue,
said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre