Saudi Arabia's tourism market was one of the world's fastest growing in 2012 despite a slump in the number of visitors to the Middle East, the latest UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) Tourism Barometer report showed.
It noted that the Kingdom saw a 14 percent growth in tourism last year, the fifth best performer globally.
However, results in the Middle East showed a five percent decline in visitor numbers although this was better than the seven percent decline reported in 2011.
The World Tourism Organization said the Middle East region lost an estimated 3 million international tourist arrivals in 2012 despite a clear recovery in Egypt.
It added that international arrivals in the Middle East could be flat in 2013 with forecasts of between zero to five percent growth for the year.
"2012 saw continued economic volatility around the globe, particularly in the eurozone. Yet international tourism managed to stay on course," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
"Tourism is thus one of the pillars that should be supported by governments around the world as part of the solution to stimulating economic growth," he added.
The report indicated that international tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion, while emerging economies (+4.1 percent) regained the lead over advanced economies (+3.6 percent), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results.
With an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion for the first time in history in 2012.
"Demand held well throughout the year, with a stronger than expected fourth quarter," the report said.
By region, Asia and the Pacific (up seven percent) was the best performer, while by sub-region South-East Asia, North Africa (both up nine percent and Central and Eastern Europe (up eight percent) topped the ranking.
It said growth is expected to continue in 2013 only slightly below the 2012 level (+3 percent to +4 percent) and in line with UNWTO long term forecast.
The report said with an additional 39 million international tourists, up from 996 million in 2011, international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion (1.035 billion) for the first time in history in 2012.
It said regional prospects for 2013 are stronger for Asia and the Pacific (+5 percent to +6 percent), followed by Africa (+4 percent to +6 percent), the Americas (+3 percent to +4 percent), Europe (+2 percent to +3 percent) and the Middle East (0 percent to +5 percent).
The UNWTO said international tourist arrivals grew by four percent in 2012 to reach 1.035 billion.
Emerging economies (up 4.1 percent) regained the lead over advanced economies (up 3.6 percent), with Asia and the Pacific showing the strongest results.
The UNWTO also predicted that growth is expected to continue in 2013 only slightly below the 2012 level at between 3-4 percent.
The Saudi Gazette