Tourists out in force despite slowdown, set for strong year in 2013 - UN

MADRID Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:56pm IST

Tourists pose for a picture in front of accumulated garbage during a strike by airport cleaners at Madrid's Barajas international airport January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Tourists pose for a picture in front of accumulated garbage during a strike by airport cleaners at Madrid's Barajas international airport January 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Perez

Related Topics

MADRID (Reuters) - Global tourism is proving resilient in the face of an economic slowdown, with tourist numbers growing at close to pre-crisis levels in 2012 and expected to increase by almost as much this year, the UN World Tourism Organisation said on Tuesday.

Europe held onto its position as the world's most-visited region in 2012 but the Asia-Pacific is catching up, recording the biggest increase in tourists in 2012 and expecting another strong performance this year.

International tourist arrivals crossed the 1 billion mark for the first time in 2012, with visitor numbers swelling 4 percent. The Madrid-based UNWTO predicts similar growth this year.

"2012 saw continued economic volatility around the globe, particularly in the euro zone. Yet international tourism managed to stay on course," UNWTO Secretary-General and former Jordan Tourism Minister Taleb Rifai said in a statement.

Tourists also spent more when on holiday in 2012, with Chinese and Russian travellers increasing their spending the most. Chinese tourists spent 42 percent more abroad than in 2011, while Russians raised their spending by a third.

The result was increased revenues for popular tourist destinations, particularly Hong Kong, the United States and Olympic Games host Britain.

Travellers from the austerity-hit euro zone cut spending on foreign travel, however: French tourists trimmed their budgets by 7 percent and Italians spent 2 percent less.

The sunny beaches of southern Europe attracted more tourists in 2012, but central and eastern Europe outpaced the popular resorts of Spain and Greece on growth, registering 8 percent more foreign visitors in 2012 against 2 percent for the southern Mediterranean.

Further south, Africa rebounded in 2012 to attract 52 million tourists, a recovery after visitor numbers fell in 2012 as travellers concerned by conflicts in North Africa shunned the region. Tourist numbers increased 6 percent in 2012, compared to a 1 percent drop in 2011.

While more people visited north and sub-Saharan Africa, three million fewer tourists travelled to the Middle East, the UNWTO noted, "in spite of the clear recovery in Egypt".

The region registering the biggest increase in visitor numbers was Asia Pacific with 15 million, or 7 percent, more tourists holidaying there. It is expected to register growth of between 5 and 6 percent in 2013.

"The sector has shown its capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions....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," Rifai said.

(Reporting by Clare Kane)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

Pharma Deal

Pharma Deal

Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia captain left seat before jet lost control - sources  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Romney Opts Out

Romney Opts Out

Republican Romney opts out of 2016 run for president.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

Safety Concerns

Safety Concerns

Aviation leaders seek new safety mandate after deadly 2014.  Full Article 

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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