International tourist numbers to hit 1.8 billion by 2030, UN report projects

12 October 2011

The number of tourists travelling outside their countries is projected to reach 1.8 billion within two decades, with emerging economies responsible for the highest growth rates, according to a new report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The report, Tourism Towards 2030, confirms that international tourism will continue to grow, forecasting an average of 43 million additional people becoming international tourists every year. This figure, which corresponds to a 3.3 per cent annual increase, represents a more moderate growth pace in the industry than in previous years.

“The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector – a more moderate, responsible and inclusive growth,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who presented the report yesterday at the organization’s General Assembly in Gyeongju in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

“This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability,” he said.

According to the report, arrivals will pass the one billion mark next year, and by 2030 five million people will be crossing international borders every day.

The report also reveals that emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa will have the most to gain from this increase as they are expected to grow at double the pace of advanced markets in North America and Europe.

By 2015, emerging economies will receive more international tourists than advanced economies, and by 2030 their share is expected to reach 58 per cent.

The report also forecasts that by 2030 North-East Asia will be the most visited region in the world, taking over from Southern and Mediterranean Europe, and that most tourists will come from Asia and the Pacific, followed by European travellers.

“Tourism Towards 2030 shows that there is still significant potential for further expansion in the coming decades. Established, as well as new destinations, can benefit from this trend and opportunity, provided they shape the appropriate conditions and policies with regard to business environment, infrastructure, facilitation, marketing and human resources,” said Mr. Rifai.

“Nevertheless, alongside this opportunity, challenges will also arise in terms of maximizing tourism’s social and economic benefits while minimizing negative impacts. As such, it is more important than ever that all tourism development be guided by the principles of sustainable development,” he added.

 

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