The top five destinations in the world areParis, London, New York, Mediterranean resort Antalya, Turkey, and Singapore,the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.
While the United States and France remainthe two largest destinations for world travel, experts say much of theexplosive growth in tourism has been to countries such as Guatemala, theDominican Republic, and the Ivory Coast, which were off the world tourism map adecade ago.
A record 1 billion people will travelacross an international border as a tourist in 2012, according to the WorldTravel & Tourism Council.
Thatmeans that one in seven people on the planet will participate in worldtraveling this year, an activity that just a few decades ago was exclusivelyfor the wealthy. The reasons for the upswing range from prosperity indeveloping countries like China to a perception of a more peaceful world.
The London-based council, whose membersinclude executives of travel companies, compiles global travel data includinginternational airport traffic and visa records. It calculates that the 1billionth 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 travelaround the world."
While evidence of leisure travel can betraced to ancient Babylon, it began to grow swiftly after World War Two. Forthe U.S. middle class, it became routine after airline deregulation began inthe late 1970s when airlines were forced to compete on prices, said DavidBojanic, a professor of tourism studies at the University of Texas San Antonio.
The inflation-adjusted cost of a planeticket from New York to London today is about one-fourth what it was in 1960,he said.
Several factors are responsible for theboom in world travel, including prosperity that has lifted tens of millions ofpeople in Asia from poverty into the middle class, whetting their desire to usetheir new wealth to travel.
The number of people travelinginternationally from China, for instance, has jumped from 58 million in 2010 to72 million this year, Scowsill said.
Another factor is the perception that theworld is a more peaceful place, even though many regional conflicts continue,said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of NotreDame.