Tourists at an annual sand sculpture competition in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Bourgas
The number of tourists travelling outside their countries is projected to reach 1.8 billion within 20 years, with emerging economies – among them, those in Eastern Europe – responsible for the highest growth rates, according to a new report by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The report, Tourism Towards 2030, confirms that international tourism will continue to grow, forecasting an average of 43 million additional people becoming international tourists every year, the UN News Centre said.
This figure, which corresponds to a 3.3 per cent annual increase, represents a more moderate growth pace in the industry than in previous years.
"The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector – a more moderate, responsible and inclusive growth," UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said.
"This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability," he said.
According to the report, arrivals will pass the one billion mark next year, and by 2030 five million people will be crossing international borders every day.
The report says that emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa will have the most to gain from this increase as they are expected to grow at double the pace of advanced markets in North America and Europe.
By 2015, emerging economies will receive more international tourists than advanced economies, and by 2030 their share is expected to reach 58 per cent.
The report also forecasts that by 2030 North-East Asia will be the most visited region in the world, taking over from Southern and Mediterranean Europe, and that most tourists will come from Asia and the Pacific, followed by European travellers.
"Tourism Towards 2030 shows that there is still significant potential for further expansion in the coming decades. Established, as well as new destinations, can benefit from this trend and opportunity, provided they shape the appropriate conditions and policies with regard to business environment, infrastructure, facilitation, marketing and human resources," Rifai said.
"Nevertheless, alongside this opportunity, challenges will also arise in terms of maximising tourism’s social and economic benefits while minimising negative impacts. As such, it is more important than ever that all tourism development be guided by the principles of sustainable development," he was quoted by the UN News Centre as saying.