International tourist arrivals grew by 4% last year to reach 1.035 billion, up from 996 million in 2011, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter.
“2012 saw continued economic volatility around the globe, particularly in the Eurozone. Yet international tourism managed to stay on course,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai.
According to UNWTO, by region, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was the best performer, while by sub-region South-East Asia, North Africa (both at +9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%) topped the ranking.
“The sector has shown its capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions and, although at a slightly more modest rate, is expected to continue expanding in 2013,” Mr. Rifai said.
UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3% to 4% in 2013, much in line with its long term forecast for 2030: +3.8% a year on average between 2010 and 2020.
This outlook is confirmed by the UNWTO Confidence Index. Compiled among over 300 experts worldwide, the Index shows that prospects for 2013 are similar to the evaluation of last year (124 points for 2013 against 122 for 2012).
By region, prospects for 2013 are stronger for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%), followed by Africa (+4% to +6%), the Americas (+3% to +4%), Europe (+2% to +3%) and the Middle East (0% to +5%).
“Tourism is thus one of the pillars that should be supported by governments around the world as part of the solution to stimulating economic growth,” the UNWTO secretary general added.