Over 1.1 billion tourists travelled abroad in 2014

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 28): International tourist arrivals reached 1.14 billion in 2014, a 4.7% increase over the previous year, according to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.

In a statement Jan 27, UNWTO forecasts that for 2015 international tourism would grow by 3% to 4%, further contributing to the global economic recovery.

It said the number of international tourists (overnight visitors) reached 1,138 million in 2014, 51 million more than in 2013.

With an increase of 4.7%, this is the fifth consecutive year of above average growth since the 2009 economic crisis, it said.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said that over the past years, tourism had proven 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.

“This has been true for destinations all around the world, but particularly for Europe, as the region struggles to consolidate its way out of one of the worst economic periods in its history,” said Rifai.

UNWTO said that by region, the Americas (+7%) and Asia and the Pacific (+5%) registered the strongest growth, while Europe (+4%), the Middle East (+4%) and Africa (+2%) grew at a slightly more modest pace.

It added that by subregion, North America (+8%) saw the best results, followed by North-East Asia, South Asia, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe and the Caribbean, all increasing by 7%.

“As in recent years, the growth in international tourism receipts in 2014 is expected to have followed that of arrivals fairly close (the 2014 results for international tourism receipts will be released in April 2015).

“In 2013, international tourism receipts reached US$ 1,187 billion, US$ 230 billion more than in the pre-crisis year of 2008,” it said.