More overseas visitors, more overnighters in Virginia parks
You can’t keep a good traveler down.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization reports that international tourism arrivals in 2011 totaled 980 million. That’s 4.4 percent more than 2010’s 939 million. Lest we forget, the increase came despite worldwide economic and political upheaval.
The regions that experienced the largest increases: the southern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe, both up 8 percent. Europe as a whole, with 503 million arrivals, accounted for more than half the worldwide growth, with a bump-up of 28 million.
Asia and the Pacific had 6 percent more arrivals (216 million total), and visits to the Americas went up 4 percent (156 million total).
Africa held steady at 50 million arrivals, hurt by the 12 percent decline in travelers to North Africa, probably because of the turmoil there. The Middle East also shed 8 percent of its arrivals for a 2011 total of 55 million.
The UNWTO expects continued growth in 2012, with international arrivals hitting 1 billion sometime later in the year.
Find more information at mkt.unwto.org/en/barometer.
It looks as though tight budgets may be making travelers more savvy about affordable accommodations.
In 2011, Virginia State Parks hosted a record number of overnight visitors. The system’s cabins, campgrounds and lodges welcomed 1,055,875 guests, up 3 percent from 1,022,698 in 2010.
Of the 35 parks, 25 offer camping facilities and 18 have cabins or lodges. Nightly camping fees fall mostly in the $20 to $30 range. Rates at the cabins and lodges range from $59 per night for an efficiency to more than $300 for a six-room lodge, depending on the season and accommodation size.
Overall attendance at the parks declined to 7,836,246. The previous year’s total was 8,065,558, an all-time high. Still, almost half the parks had higher daily attendance numbers. The system celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.
To check out options for your next stay, visit dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks.
Island Travel & Tours begins its charter flights to Cuba from BWI Marshall on March 21. Trips are still limited to “purposeful” travelers along the lines of journalists, academics and religious and cultural organizations. The roughly three-hour flight will leave BWI on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. . . . The State Department has issued an emergency message to U.S. citizens either in Thailand or thinking of traveling there. Officials are concerned that “foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future.” . . . If you’re looking to help with restoration efforts in Italy’s Cinque Terre region, damaged by flooding last year, you can now make a donation through three Web sites: www.savevernazza.com, vernazzafutura.blogspot.com and www.amicidellecinqueterre.com.
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