Though a slowdown in growth was predicted for the rest of the year, international arrivals will likely exceed one billion by the end of 2012.
The rise was led by Asia (+8%), where Japan was the main driving force (+8%), overcoming the natural disasters that struck in 2011. In Africa, the number of tourists has also significantly grown (+7%), thanks to the return of the tourists in Northern African countries (+11%), mainly Tunisia.
In Europe, demand grew by 4 percent, supported by Eastern and Central European streams, (+7%) while harshly hurt by the crisis Mediterranean countries have seen their frequentation only grow by 1 percent.
Tourists were also attracted to the American continent (+5%), especially by Central America (+7%) and South America (+6%), compared to a 4 percent growth in the older Northern American market.
Tourists from China and Russia generated a two-figure progression, while demand was stable for traditional markets like France, Great Britain, Italy and Australia.
Last year, international tourist arrivals reached 990 million, which means the UNWTO expects a growth of 3 to 4 percent in 2012.