|TOURIST HOTSPOTS AROUND THE WORLD ARE CROWDED WITH NEW VISITORS – BUT ARE THEY ALL WELCOME?|
Aruba, July 27, 2015 - A bar not 300 metres from Rome’s Spanish Steps. Two Russian women sip aperitivi. A couple speaking Brazilian Portuguese wait for sandwiches at the counter, while a boisterous party of Chinese makes its way past the glass door, shut against the sweltering heat.
Rome is as good a place as any to observe trends in global tourism, and what the Romans have experienced in recent years is a Bric [Brazil, Russia, India and China] through the window. People from countries whose languages had seldom before been heard on the streets of the Eternal City – Turkey is another – have been arriving in Rome in steadily mounting numbers.
Their presence is the visible evidence of a surge in international tourism, driven by the newly acquired prosperity of the G20 giants, that has confounded predictions of moderate growth in the wake of the global financial crisis. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, arrivals have exceeded the long-term average in each of the past five years. In 2014, international tourist traffic grew by 4.7%, which was above the top end of the range envisaged by UN forecasters.
Such a flood of humanity sloshing around the planet raises many issues. The environmental challenges have been extensively debated. But there are others relating to equity and discrimination that have so far been barely touched upon. In absolute numbers, Europe is far and away the biggest destination: 588 million tourists poured across its international frontiers in 2014. But the soaring numbers are a global phenomenon.