The economic crisis, Japanese disasters, and the Arab Spring couldn't stop tourists from globetrotting last year, AFP reports. European tourism surged the most—6% higher than in 2010—helping to fuel an international rise of 4.4% that clocked 980 million travelers, according to a UN report. But tourists did lose interest in the Middle East (down 8%), North Africa (down 12%), and Japan (down 13%).
Last year was unusual, the report said, because advanced economies saw greater tourist growth (5%) than emerging ones (3.7%). International tourism will likely keep growing this year, at a slower rate of 3% to 4%, and top the one billion mark by New Year's. Asia and Africa will probably see the greatest surge, of 4% to 6%. The overall rise is "encouraging," a UN official says, coming when "we urgently need levers to stimulate growth and job creation." (Read more tourism stories.)