International tourist arrivals grew by five per cent in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013.
For 2014, UNWTO forecasts four to 4.5 per cent growth - again, above the long term projections.
Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (up six per cent), Africa (also up six per cent) and Europe (up five per cent).
The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (up ten per cent), Central and Eastern Europe (up seven per cent), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (up six per cent) and North Africa (up six per cent).
“Last year was an excellent year for international tourism,” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.
“The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges.
“Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies,” he added.
UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by four per cent to 4.5 per cent in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8 per cent per year between 2010 and 2020.
The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years.
“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism.
“Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth,” added Mr Rifai.