The world now has 1.2 billion tourists a year... and rising
'New heights' in 2015
Published 19/01/2016 | 07:07
A record 1.2 billion arrivals for overnight trips were recorded worldwide in 2015, up 4.4pc on the previous year.
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said the rise was driven by a few leading markets including China, the USA and the UK.
Incoming tourism grew by around 5pc in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, while arrivals to the Middle East increased by 3pc.
It is estimated that there was a 3pc decline in African tourism, however - although limited data was available.
UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said:
"International tourism reached new heights in 2015.
The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world.
"It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability."
Ireland also clocked a record year for tourism in 2015, with over eight million visitors recorded in the 11 months from January to November.
The government's current tourism policy aspires to attract 10 million overseas visitors annually by 2025, with employment of 250,000.
The UNWTO's confidence index remains "largely positive for 2016", although growth is expected to fall slightly to 4pc.