The international tourist arrivals, which has touched 1.035 billion (that represents more than one trillion dollars in revenue term excluding travelling cost) with 4 per cent growth over 2011, may witness a growth of 3.5 to 4 per cent this year, Taleb Rifai said.
"Europe is one of the most important sources of tourism in the world. They send lot of tourists. When their economy becomes complicated the world economy becomes complicated," Rifai said on the sidelines of a conference. "But fortunately the world tourism is compensated by the new areas such as China, Russia, India and Brazil. These are the emerging destinations sending more and more tourists making up to some extent of the drop in demand that is caused in Europe," he said.
UNWTO Commission's Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development and 25th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia, Pacific and South Asia began here today. "The whole world is going to experience more modest growth - may be half a point to one point less than the last year. When you have high rates of growth year after year the rates of growth tend to become smaller and smaller," Rifai said when asked about the expected drop in international tourists arrivals this year.
According to the data provided by UNWTO, in Europe, despite economic pressures, expenditure on international tourism by Germany held well at +3 per cent , while the UK (+5 per cent ) returned to growth after two flat years. On the other hand France and Italy registered - 7 (minus seven) and -2 (minus two) per cent growth respectively last year. Rifai said Asian region has registered 7 per cent growth in tourist traffic with 233 million arrivals. The tourism body expects 5 to 6 per cent growth this year.
Union Minister of State for Tourism K Chiranjeevi, during the inaugural session of the conference, said inter-regional tourism co-operations will be the key for the tourism growth in Asian region. He opined that sustainable tourism will generate benefits like economic growth, employment generation and social integration for longer period of time.
He expressed concern over destruction of natural wealth and wonders in the name of development. The heritage has to be kept for our future generations, Chiranjeevi said. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy was among the dignitaries who spoke during the inaugural session of the three-day international conference.