LONDON (UPI) — World travel, poised to hit major milestones in 2012, is expected to grow fastest in South and Northeast Asia this year, a global tourism trade group said.
The World Travel & Tourism Council said Wednesday the travel industry is expected to grow by 2.8 percent in 2012, led by growth of 6.7 percent in regions that include China and India.
Domestic tourism will provide most of the increase, as the middle class continues to grow in emerging nations, the council said.
Overall, the tourism industry is expected to hit three symbolic milestones, surpassing the $2 trillion mark in its contribution to the world’s economy and providing more than 100 million jobs.
Using a broader viewpoint, travel and tourism supports 260 million jobs that contribute $6.5 trillion to the global economy, the trade group said.
The other milestone: The number of international travelers is expected to surpass 1 billion for the first time, said David Scowsill, the trade group’s president and chief executive officer in a statement.
The trade group said tourism is expected to grow 3.6 percent in North Africa “after an extremely challenging 2011 when unrest and violence had a dramatic impact on demand for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.”
The trade group predicted tourism in the United States and Europe, “will continue to struggle” in 2012 with 1.3 percent growth in the states and 0.3 growth in Europe.
In the Middle East, political tension defines an erratic forecast. Tourism is expected to jump 13.2 percent in Qatar and fall 20.5 percent in Syria, “as the political situation worsens.”
The region overall is expected to see tourism grow 3 percent this year.