A billion reasons it’s a less lonely planet

Wrap your mind around this figure if you can: by the end of the year, the global tourism market is expected to reach 1 billion passengers a year. That’s not counting people travelling within their own country; it is purely international tourism arrivals.

International passenger numbers hit 980 million last year, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and growth is expected to continue this year, albeit at a more modest pace.

What does 1 billion tourists mean for the world? Do we celebrate the economic and cultural benefits that tourism brings or do we fear for the sustainability and authenticity of future travel? At what point does the balance actually tip?

“You only have to look at the number of aircraft taking off and landing at airports – and compare that to the figures of a generation ago – to come to the conclusion it must have some sort of impact,” says the founder of Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler.

“Let’s face it – the thought of countless millions of Chinese tourists getting added into the mix is pretty scary,” says Wheeler. “But who are we to tell them not to go? And it’s pretty exciting to see their sudden interest in the outside world.”

Wheeler says while he sometimes questions the good versus harm ratio of tourism – he names places such as… (click here to keep reading this article by Jane E. Fraser)

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