Although international tourist arrivals grew by 4% in 2012 reaching 1.035 billion, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has forecasted a figure slightly below the 2012 level of between +3% to +4%.
The Organisation, however, says the 2013 forecast is in line with UNWTO long term forecast for 2030: +3.8% a year on average between 2010 and 2020.
The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, a regular publication of the tourism trends and marketing strategies announced in a report made available in Accra, Ghana's capital on Friday.
Emerging economies (+4.1%) regained the lead over advanced economies (+3.6%), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results.
The report said noting that "with an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012."
It says demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter.
In terms of regions, Asia and the Pacific (+7%) was the best performer, while by sub-region, South-East Asia, North Africa (both at +9%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%) topped the ranking.
Asia and the Pacific was up by 15 million arrivals in 2012, reaching a total 233 million international tourists.
International tourist arrivals to Europe, the most visited region in the world, were up by 3%; a very positive result in view of the economic situation, and following a strong 2011 (+6%).
Total arrivals in Europe reached 535 million, 17 million more than in 2011.
The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of 6 million arrivals, reaching 162 million in total. Africa (+6%) recovered well from its setback in 2011 when arrivals declined by 1% due largely to the negative results of North Africa.
"Arrivals reached a new record (52 million) due to the rebound in North Africa (+9% as compared to a 9% decline in 2011) and to the continued growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%)," the report says.
In the Middle East (-5%) improved after a 7% decline in 2011, yet the region recorded an estimated 3 million international tourist arrivals less in 2012 in spite of the clear recovery in Egypt.
The organisation says prospects for 2013 are similar to the evaluation of last year (124 points for 2013 against 122 for 2012).
It adds that regional prospects for 2013 are stronger for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%), followed by Africa (+4% to +6%), the Americas (+3% to +4%), Europe (+2% to +3%) and the Middle East (0% to +5%).
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