The number of tourists taking international trips increased by 4.4% to 1.2 billion in 2015, according to new figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This is an increase of around 50 million tourists, and the sixth year of growth in a row. Figures last declined in 2009, by 4%.
The top destination in the world last year was France, followed by the US, Spain and China.
The figures were influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and man-made crises, the organization said.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai commented: ‘The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world. It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability’.
The organization predicts growth of 4% in 2016.
Rifai added: ‘As the current environment highlights in a particular manner the issues of safety and security, we should recall that tourism development greatly depends upon our collective capacity to promote safe, secure and seamless travel.’
He continued: ‘In this respect, UNWTO urges governments to include tourism administrations in their national security planning, structures and procedures, not only to ensure that the sector’s exposure to threats is minimized but also to maximize the sector’s ability to support security and facilitation, as seamless and safe travel can and should go hand in hand.’