World tourist numbers pass billion: UN body

World tourist numbers pass billion: UN body

"The need to travel is defying economic difficulties," the Madrid-based UN body's Secretary General Taleb Rifai told AFP.

The number of people making tourist trips in 2012 is set to record a rise of three percent compared to 2011 in recession-bound Europe, seven percent in Asia and four percent worldwide, he said.

"When you have one billion international travellers, it's one out of six people of the world that cross borders," he said.

"If you add to that about five billion more travellers within their national boundaries... there is almost one trip per year for every citizen of this world that is done under the definition of being a tourist."

That indicated a strong recovery compared to 2009, when world tourism declined 3.8 percent at the height of the financial crisis, though the rise has stopped accelerating after growth of 6.6 percent in 2010.

He said his organisation forecasts that by 2030 the number of tourists worldwide would reach 1.8 billion.