GENEVA - The number of international tourists rose 4.7 per cent on the year to a record 1.138 billion in 2014, according to figures published Tuesday by the UN World Tourism Organisation.
Growing travel demand in China and other emerging nations offset the dampening effects of the Ukraine crisis and the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa. The tourism organisation predicts the number will further increase by 3-4 per cent this year, supported by lower oil prices. That is good news for Japan, which is trying to attract more foreign visitors.
Europe, the most popular travel destination, drew 3.9 per cent more visitors in 2014, while the Americas saw a 7.4 per cent increase and the Asia-Pacific region attracted 5.3 per cent more people. International travel among Chinese jumped more than 10 per cent to break 100 million, helping push up the overall figure.
Falling oil prices are expected to boost travel demand in 2015. The Americas and the Asia-Pacific region are expected to see an increase of 4-5 per cent, while Europe is forecast to mark a 3-4 per cent rise. The number of travelers is expected to climb 3-5 per cent for Africa and 2-5 per cent for the Middle East, but those numbers are likely to fluctuate due to political unrest and other uncertainties.