Growth in tourism slows down across globe
MADRID - Agence France-PresseInternational tourist numbers expanded in 2011 despite the economic crisis, the Arab Spring and Japanese disasters, and will hit one billion this year, a UN body said yesterday.
The number of international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent to 980 million in 2011, up from 940 million in 2010, the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organization said in its annual survey. But while the number of visitors to Europe surged, the overall recovery that began in 2010 appears to be losing steam.
World tourism had recovered from its worst year in six decades in 2009, the body’s secretary general Taleb Rifai said, with visitor numbers up 6.7 percent in 2010. The 2011 figure was within the 4-5 percent forecast. Now, the organization forecasts international tourism will grow further in 2012 although at a slower rate.
“Arrivals are expected to increase by 3 to 4 percent, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year,” the report said.
The world’s regions had mixed fortunes in 2011. Europe recorded an extra 29 million visitors and a total of 503 million – 6 percent higher than in 2010. But Africa, with 50 million visitors overall, logged no growth in tourist arrivals. Visits to the Middle East declined 8 percent, with the region losing an estimated 5 million international arrivals compared to 2010.