On a global scale more than one billion tourists will take a trip that crosses an international boundary during this year.
UN officials announced the figure for international travel to a meeting of tourism ministers in Mexico this week. Speaking to the tourism ministers from G20 countries, Taleb Rifai, head of the UN World Tourism Organisation, said, ‘We will have more than a billion tourists, that means one-seventh of humanity. This has never happened in history.’
While 980 million tourist arrivals were recorded worldwide in 2011, the figure is expected to rise by 3 to 4 percent, to finally deliver the landmark figure of one billion by the end of the year, according to figures from the World Tourism Organisation. In the first two months of this year, international tourism grew by 5.7 percent, to over 131 million, compared to 124 million recorded for the same period last year.
This week’s meeting in the resort town of Merida on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsular was the fourth Ministerial Meeting of Tourism (T20), and its agenda included a focus on combating barriers to the free movement of tourists around the world. Delegates attended it from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, UK, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the European Union.
Other contributors to the meeting included the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO).