The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts a 1.6 billion international tourists arrivals by the year 2020.
Contained in its Tourism 2020 Vision, the number is the UNWTO's long-term forecast and assessment of the development of tourism up to the first 20 years of the new millennium. An essential outcome of the Tourism 2020 Vision are quantitative forecasts covering a 25-years period, with 1995 as the base year and forecasts for 2010 and 2020.
Although the evolution of tourism in the last few years has been irregular, but UNWTO maintains its long-term forecast for the moment. The underlying structural trends of the forecast are believed not to have significantly changed. Experience shows that in the short term, periods of faster growth (1995, 1996, 2000) alternate with periods of slow growth (2001 to 2003).
"While the pace of growth till 2000 actually exceeded the Tourism 2020 Vision forecast, it is generally expected that the current slowdown would be compensated in the medium to long term," the body noted.
In the breakdown of the 1.6 billion worldwide arrivals in 2020, the UNWTO said 1.2 billion would be intraregional and 378 million would be long-haul travellers.
"The total tourist arrivals by region shows that by 2020 the top three receiving regions will be Europe (717 million tourists), East Asia and the Pacific (397 million) and the Americas (282 million), followed by Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
East Asia and the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East and Africa are to record growth at rates of over five per cent a year, compared to the world average of 4.1 per cent. The more mature regions Europe and Americas are anticipated to show lower than average growth rates.
Europe would maintain the highest share of world arrivals, although there would be a decline from 60 per cent in 1995 to 46 per cent in 2020.