Number of annual international tourists reaches one billion

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The UNWTO said tourism has grown between 3.5 and 4 per cent this year. China and Russia have been the biggest drivers of growth

The number of tourists crossing international borders annually reached one billion last week (a few of them are captured in this image by lrargerich). That’s according to the arm of the United Nations that promotes responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism – The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The UNWTO said tourism has grown between 3.5 and 4 per cent this year. China and Russia, with 30 and 16 per cent growth in outbound tourists respectively, have been the biggest drivers of growth. The total number of international tourists in 2011 was 983 million, a growth of 4.6 percent from 2010. We think it’s both surprising and exciting to see such growth in tourist numbers in such a challenging economic climate.

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According to the UNWTO, France gets the most international tourists with 79.5 million in 2011. The United States was second with 62.3 million and China was third with 57.6 million. The United Kingdom ranked seventh with 29.2 million visitors last year.

Annual international tourists reaches 1 billion
Photo courtesy of UNWTO

Travellers from Germany are believed to have spent the most when travelling abroad in 2011 – they spent a whopping US$84.3 billion. People travelling from the US accounted for US$79.1 billion, while those from China parted with US$72.6 billion on their travels (a 32 percent increase on China’s figures in 2010). At US$50.6 billion, the UK was the fourth biggest spending nation.

The UNWTO estimates the number of annual international tourists will be 1.8 billion by 2030. Their projections see the Middle East and Africa doubling their arrivals in the next 18 years, up to 149 million and 134 million respectively.

In order to bring attention to its One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities campaign, the UNWTO marked the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist of 2012. They selected Mrs. Dale Sheppard-Floyd, a British woman visiting Madrid for three days. Frustratingly, they don’t say how they came to select her, or what kind of reaction she had to the news. Though they did take her to the Spanish capital’s biggest tourist attraction – Museo del Prado.

Here’s hoping her museum experience wasn’t ruined with there being too many other visitors.

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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

Number of annual international tourists reaches one billion was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (631 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to momondo.com.