With a record 467 million tourists traveling in the first half of 2012, international tourism could reach one billion tourists by the end of the year, predicted the UNWTO this week.
Despite concerns over the global economy, international tourism shows no sign of slowing down. The number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5 percent between January and June 2012 compared to the same period of 2011 -- amounting to 22 million more.
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.