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1 billionth tourist will cross an international boundary on December 13

The top five destinations in the world are Paris, London, New York, Mediterranean resort Antalya, Turkey, and Singapore, as per the United Nations World Tourism Organization report

   Friday 07-Dec-2012  | Mumbai

A record one billion people will travel across an international border as a tourist in 2012, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

That means that one in seven people on the planet will participate in world traveling this year, an activity that just a few decades ago was exclusively for the wealthy. The reasons for the upswing range from prosperity in developing countries like China to a perception of a more peaceful world.

The London-based council, whose members include executives of travel companies, compiles global travel data including international airport traffic and visa records. It calculates that the 1 billionth tourist will cross an international boundary on December 13.

"This is an astounding milestone," David Scowsill, president of the council, said in a telephone interview. "There is an inexorable growth in the number of people who want to travel around the world."

While the United States and France remain the two largest destinations for world travel, experts say much of the explosive growth in tourism has been to countries such as Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and the Ivory Coast, which were off the world tourism map a decade ago.

The top five destinations in the world are Paris, London, New York, Mediterranean resort Antalya, Turkey, and Singapore, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.

While evidence of leisure travel can be traced to ancient Babylon, it began to grow swiftly after World War Two. For the U.S. middle class, it became routine after airline deregulation began in the late 1970s when airlines were forced to compete on prices, said David Bojanic, a professor of tourism studies at the University of Texas San Antonio.

The inflation-adjusted cost of a plane ticket from New York to London today is about one-fourth what it was in 1960, he said.

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