International tourism to reach record 1 billion travelers in 2012
"I grew up watching Fess Parker on the television," she recalled of the actor who played adventurer Davy Crockett on a popular 1950s television series that dramatized the battle of the Alamo. "And we decided we would pop over here and take a look."
While evidence of leisure travel can be traced to ancient Babylon, it began to grow swiftly after World War Two. For the U.S. middle class, it became routine after airline deregulation began in the late 1970s when airlines were forced to compete on prices, said David Bojanic, a professor of tourism studies at the University of Texas San Antonio.
The inflation-adjusted cost of a plane ticket from New York to London today is about one-fourth what it was in 1960, he said.
Several factors are responsible for the boom in world travel, including prosperity that has lifted tens of millions of people in Asia from poverty into the middle class, whetting their desire to use their new wealth to travel.
The number of people traveling internationally from China, for instance, has jumped from 58 million in 2010 to 72 million this year, Scowsill said.
Another factor is the perception that the world is a more peaceful place, even though many regional conflicts continue, said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame.