by Matt Alderton | December 14, 2012
One billion people have traveled the world in 2012, setting a new record for international tourism, the United Nations' World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced yesterday.

"Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who stressed to world travelers the positive impact of their trips on local economies. "Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future."

According to UNWTO — which counts tourism as one of the world's largest economic sectors, accounting for 9 percent of global GDP, one in every 12 jobs and up to 8 percent of the total exports of the world's least developed countries — a British tourist visiting Madrid for three days on Dec. 13 was chosen as the world's "symbolic" one billionth 2012 traveler, since it's impossible to know exactly where and when the one-billionth tourist arrived.

"Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist," Rifai said. "The one-billionth tourist, Mrs. Dale Sheppard-Floyd from the United Kingdom, is visiting Spain for three days. During that time she will experience a new culture, meet new people, support the local economy and help to sustain the jobs of waiters, tour guides and many more working in tourism, as well as of all those whose jobs are indirectly linked to tourism such as taxi drivers, food producers or shop attendees. If we multiply this impact by one billion, we begin to understand the enormous significance of reaching this milestone."

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