International tourism to reach record 1 billion travelers in 2012

Fri Dec 7, 2012 3:11am IST

A tourist takes a picture of the Eiffel tower as he visits the Trocadero square in Paris November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A tourist takes a picture of the Eiffel tower as he visits the Trocadero square in Paris November 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Related Topics

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

(Reuters) - A record 1 billion people will travel across an international border as a tourist in 2012, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

That means that one in seven people on the planet will participate in world traveling this year, an activity that just a few decades ago was exclusively for the wealthy. The reasons for the upswing range from prosperity in developing countries like China to a perception of a more peaceful world.

The London-based council, whose members include executives of travel companies, compiles global travel data including international airport traffic and visa records. It calculates that the 1 billionth tourist will cross an international boundary on December 13.

"This is an astounding milestone," David Scowsill, president of the council, said in a telephone interview. "There is an inexorable growth in the number of people who want to travel around the world."

While the United States and France remain the two largest destinations for world travel, experts say much of the explosive growth in tourism has been to countries such as Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and the Ivory Coast, which were off the world tourism map a decade ago.

The top five destinations in the world are Paris, London, New York, Mediterranean resort Antalya, Turkey, and Singapore, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.

Wendy Morrison, a retiree from Manchester, England, may typify an international traveler. She was in San Antonio, Texas, this week with a friend to visit the Alamo, a Spanish mission famous for a battle between Texans and the Mexican army in 1836.

"I grew up watching Fess Parker on the television," she recalled of the actor who played adventurer Davy Crockett on a popular 1950s television series that dramatized the battle of the Alamo. "And we decided we would pop over here and take a look."

While evidence of leisure travel can be traced to ancient Babylon, it began to grow swiftly after World War Two. For the U.S. middle class, it became routine after airline deregulation began in the late 1970s when airlines were forced to compete on prices, said David Bojanic, a professor of tourism studies at the University of Texas San Antonio.

The inflation-adjusted cost of a plane ticket from New York to London today is about one-fourth what it was in 1960, he said.

Several factors are responsible for the boom in world travel, including prosperity that has lifted tens of millions of people in Asia from poverty into the middle class, whetting their desire to use their new wealth to travel.

The number of people traveling internationally from China, for instance, has jumped from 58 million in 2010 to 72 million this year, Scowsill said.

Another factor is the perception that the world is a more peaceful place, even though many regional conflicts continue, said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame. (Editing by Corrie MacLaggan, Greg McCune and Philip Barbara)

FILED UNDER:

Showbiz

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Jamini Roy

Jamini Roy

Photo Gallery – Bengali household name Jamini Roy’s paintings  Full Article 

A Minute With

A Minute With

'Sunny' Charlie Day on oddballs, 'Horrible Bosses'  Full Article 

Arab Singer Dies

Arab Singer Dies

Lebanese singer Sabah dies at 87  Full Article 

Book Talk

Book Talk

Pack of Thieves? Convict-era Australia stacks the deck  Full Article 

Ferguson Impact

Ferguson Impact

Garth Brooks cancels TV appearances amid Ferguson unrest  Full Article 

Canada Sex Case

Canada Sex Case

Canadian celebrity radio host charged with sexual assault  Full Article 

Broadway in Cuba

Broadway in Cuba

Broadway finds a new stage in an old venue: Cuba  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage