If your lucky number is one billion, then December 2012 has certainly been a good month for you. Just last week, the music video to hit song “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop-sensation PSY became the first video in history to reach one billion views on YouTube. Less well known is the fact that on December 13th the UN World Tourism Organization declared that one billion tourists had traveled internationally in 2012.
Celebrating this new record, the UNWTO welcomed the symbolic one-billionth tourist of the year at a ceremony held in Madrid’s Museo del Prado. “Your actions count,” said the organization’s Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “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.”
Timed for the event, the UNWTO also unveiled their new campaign, One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities. Encouraging travelers to preserve local heritage, buy local products, and respect local cultures, the One Billion Tourists campaign highlights just how much an impact the global tourism industry has on the world.
According to UNWTO data, international tourism accounts for 9% of the world’s GDP, and for 1 in 12 jobs worldwide.
That’s pretty epic.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.