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Tourism

Global tourism soars to record one billion arrivals

International tourist arrivals have gone up markedly in the past 12 months. The UN Tourism Organization has said economic volatility around the globe hasn't kept travelers from booking journeys abroad.

Cross-border tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent to 1.035 billion in 2012, the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported on Tuesday.

It marked the first time that international tourist numbers exceeded the one-billion mark, up from 996 million in 2011.

"2012 was a year of constant economic instability in the entire world, especially in the eurozone," UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a statement. "Despite this, international tourism managed to maintain its course."

Tourism to expand even further

The largest post last year was recorded for the Asia-Pacific region, with its number of foreign arrivals up by 14 million or 6.5 percent. The only region to report a decline year-on-year was the Middle East because of political instability in popular tourist spots such as Egypt or Syria.

The latest numbers helped to offset an unprecedented 3.9-percent annual plunge in 2009 when the outbreak of the swine flu virus saw millions of potential travelers stay at home

The UNWTO predicted international tourist arrivals to rise by an average of 3.8 percent each year until at least 2020, saying the total number of cross-border tourists would stand at 1.8 billion people by then.

hg/ipj (dpa, AFP)