The tourism industry has outperformed the global economy in 2012 - growing faster than manufacturing, retail, financial services and communications.
The industry has grown its total contribution to GDP by three per cent and increased the number of jobs by five million to 260 million.
It means that, for the first time, one in 11 of all jobs in the world is now supported by tourism.
More than ten per cent of all new jobs created in 2012 were from the industry.
According to research from the World Travel & Tourism Council economic research, in 2012, tourism’s total economic contribution - taking account of its direct, indirect and induced impacts - was US$6.6 trillion in GDP.
This is a rise of US$500 billion year-on-year.
Furthermore, tourism supports US$765 billion in investment and US$1.2 trillion in exports.
This contribution represents nine per cent of total GDP, five per cent of total investment and five per cent of world exports.
Among the 20 largest global economies, South Korea, China, South Africa and Indonesia performed best.
Growth of less than one per cent in Europe and two per cent in the United States was counter-balanced by ten per cent growth in South Korea, seven per cent in China and South Africa and six per cent in Indonesia.
WTTC is predicting the tourism industry will expand its total contribution to GDP by 3.2 per cent in 2013, faster than the 2.4 per cent predicted for global economic growth.
The industry is expected to support nearly 266 million jobs in 2013 and again outperform many other industries.
WTTC president David Scowsill said: “2012 demonstrated again just how resilient the tourism industry is.
“Despite many economic difficulties, last year, for the first time, we saw more than one billion international travellers pass through the world’s ports, airports, roads and railway stations for the first time.
“This industry is an important driver for countries’ economic development and growth strategies.
“Our industry is responsible for creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty, and broadening horizons.
“But we need international institutions and governments to recognise its strength, to remove restrictive visa and tax regimes and to work with the private sector to stimulate that growth.”