SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.N.'s World Trade Organization says 1 billion people will cross international borders as tourists this year for the first time.
The WTO's regional director for the Americas, Carlos Vogeler, predicted Wednesday that the milestone will be reached in the fall.
That figure would be about 4 percent higher than last year's total. Back in 1950, the figure was 25 million. The UN counts only people who stay at least one night. It does not include cruise ship passengers.
"It is quite iconic when you realize 1 billion people crossed borders," Vogeler said at a Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association conference in Puerto Rico. "It shows from a sociological point of view how things have changed. If you go back 20-30 years, many people would die without traveling more than 100 miles from home."
The WTO plans a celebration, and may even try to designate someone as the billionth tourist, when the number is hit.
The organization also projects that there will be 1.4 billion in 2020 and 1.8 billion in 2030.
The top three destination countries now are France, the US and China.