International tourism rose five per cent in the first nine months of 2013 to reach a record 845 million worldwide, according to figures released on December 12 by the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The latest update from the UNWTO shows that an estimated 41 million more tourists between January and September of this year went on the road than in the same period of 2012.
“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, according to the UN News Centre.
Among top travellers, the number of Russians traveling abroad grew by 29 per cent, while Chinese visitors increased by 22 per cent.
Meanwhile, travellers from developed countries took fewer trips. Canadian travel rose three per cent, while visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom and France increased by two percent. Germany reported zero growth, while Australia, Italy and Japan decreased overall.
In terms of destinations, travellers continued to flock to Europe which reported even stronger growth at six per cent, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, and Southern and Mediterranean Europe.
This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000, according to UNWTO.
“It is particularly encouraging to see the strong results in many European destinations, where the tourism sector is, undoubtedly, one of the engines of the economic recovery,” Rifai said.
Tourism to Asia and the Pacific continued to show robust results, bolstered by visitors to south-east Asia which recorder a 12 per cent increase.
By contrast, the Americas reported comparatively weaker results at three per cent increase, with a slightly better boost to North America, specifically the United States.
Africa’s five per cent growth was fuelled by the recovery in North Africa, while the Middle East saw only a marginal increase of 0.3 per cent.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)