International tourism up for 2010, strongest in Middle East, Asia
But the growth was mixed last year, with Asia and the Middle East rebounding much faster, while travel to Europe remained sluggish and international tourism to North America grew only modestly.
In 2010, 935 million people worldwide traveled internationally, up 6.7% over 2009, according to the report. The increase is significant considering that international travel dropped 4% in 2009, compared with the previous year.
Travel to the Middle East grew the most, by 14%, while the number of tourists visiting Asia grew by 13%, according to the U.N. organization. In North America, international travel grew by 8% while tourism to Europe increased by only 3%.
The report partly attributes the poor showing in Europe to the flight interruptions in April because of eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and a slower economic recovery among some countries in the region.
“The challenge now will be to consolidate this growth over the coming years amid a still uncertain global economic environment,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary-general for the U.N. World Tourism Organization.
-- Hugo Martin
Photo: International travelers wait in line at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times.