International tourist arrivals climb 4 percent, says UNWTO

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About 561 million international tourist arrivals were registered between January and June this year, up 4.0 percent year-on-year, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has confirmed.

The first six months this years saw 21 million more international tourists than in the same period in 2015, according to the UNWTO.
There was a 9.0-percent rise in Asia and the Pacific and a 4.0-percent increase in the Americas, where Central and South America performed strongly.

Europe saw a 3.0-percent rise, although results were better in some countries than others, while Africa performed well with a growth rate of 5.0 percent, although most of that came from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, North Africa continued to struggle amid safety fears, while safety fears also led to an estimated 9-percent drop in visitors to the Middle East.

“Tourism has proved to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide. It is creating jobs for millions, at a time when providing perspectives for a better future to people of all regions is one of our biggest challenges,” said UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai.

He added that although “safety and security are key pillars of tourism development,” it was “no time to build walls or point fingers; it is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility.”

UNWTO highlighted that China remained the world’s main source market and Chinese travelers continued to experience “double-digit” growth in expenditure. Estimates for the first quarter of the year pointed to a rise of over 20 percent in spending by Chinese tourists, something that UNWTO considered a benefit to “destinations in the region and beyond.”

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