World Tourism Numbers Hit Record High in 2015
The number of international tourists rose by 4.4 percent worldwide in 2015 to hit a record 1.18 billion despite concerns over terrorism attacks.
A United Nations World Tourism Organization report said that France remained the world’s most popular tourist destination, followed by the United States, Spain and China.
According to the report, falling oil prices reduced transport costs but weakened demand for travel in oil-exporting nations while the weakness in the euro currency made travel to Europe for Americans more attractive.
The U.N. report said 2015 was the sixth consecutive year of above-average growth in global tourism since the economic crisis. It had initially predicted international tourism arrivals would increase by 3 to 4 percent in 2015.
The U.N. report predicts international tourism arrivals will increase by 4 percent in 2016. It forecasts the number of tourists who make an overnight trip abroad will hit 1.4 billion by 2020.
Some destinations did suffer drops in visitor numbers last year due to fears of terrorism, however. The number of international visitors to Tunisia, which was shaken by an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis followed by one in the resort of Sousse that killed 59 tourists, fell to 5.2 million last year from 7.2 million in 2014.
Tourism arrivals to North Africa overall fell by 8 percent last year. In sub-Saharan African they were down by 1 percent in part due to fears over the outbreak of Ebola.
Europe, the world’s most visited region, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas all recorded growth of around 5 percent in the number of international arrivals last year.
China was once again the top source country for international tourists, and Chinese travelers were also the biggest spenders last year with China posting double-digit growth in tourism expenditure every year since 2004.