UNWTO confirms over 1.1 billion int'l tourists in 2014

January 28, 2015 6:39 am 

MADRID, Jan. 28 — The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Monday said over 1.1 billion people made international visits in 2014.

The publication of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, on the eve of the 2015 FITUR international tourism exhibition in Madrid, shows 1.138 billion people traveled abroad for their holidays last year, 4.7 percent up more than in 2013.

Figures mark a fifth consecutive year of global tourism growth despite the economic crisis. UNWTO expects continued expansion for 2015 with a further increase of between 3 and 4 percent for the current year.

"Over the past years, tourism has proved to be a surprisingly strong and resilient economic activity and a fundamental contributor to the economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in exports and creating millions of jobs," said UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai.

Rifai highlighted the importance of tourism in Europe as a motor for countries such as Spain to escape at least some of the effects of the crisis.

The Americas saw 7 percent growth last year, followed by Asia and the Pacific region with 5 percent, while Europe and the Middle East witnessed 4 percent growth, and Africa 2 percent.

Half of the world's tourists visited European destinations in 2014, while there were 263 international tourist arrivals in the Asia Pacific region, where China again performed strongly as a source market with 109 million Chinese people (11 million more than last year) taking holidays outside of their homeland.

Both North East Asia and South East Asia saw 7 percent growth, while the number of visitors to Oceania increased by 6 percent.

Rifai said demand would grow in 2015 "as the global economic situation improves," but highlighted there were still "plenty of challenges ahead."

He explained that although falling oil prices would lower transport costs and boost economic growth in general, a negative effect would be to hit the purchasing power of some oil producing countries.

This is corroborated by a 6 percent fall in international tourists from Russia, where a fall in the value of the ruble has combined with falling oil prices to cause a slowdown. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/JSD

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