People, Travel

UN: World Tourism Arrivals Up 4%

Growth in Western Europe tourism was sluggish, up by just 1%.Growth in Western Europe tourism was sluggish, up by just 1%.

International tourism grew 4% in the first half of this year, with Asia posting the strongest growth, the World Tourism Organization said on Thursday.

At around 561 million, the number of international tourists surged 21 million between January and June compared with the same period of a year earlier, the Madrid-based United Nations body said in a statement, AFP reported.

“Tourism has proven to be one of the most resilient economic sectors worldwide,” UN World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in the statement.

Tourist arrivals rose at the fastest rate in the Asia-Pacific region, where numbers were up by 9% due to “robust intra-regional demand”.

Africa, where an outbreak last year of Ebola in West Africa caused tourists to shun travel to the entire continent, posted a 5% rise in international arrivals, with sub-Saharan African “recovering vigorously” with a 12% increase.

In Europe, the world’s most-visited region, tourist arrivals grew by 3%.

Growth in Western Europe was sluggish, up by just 1%, while northern, central and eastern Europe each recorded 5% more international arrivals.

International arrivals in the Americas were up 4% in the first half of the year, in line with the global average.

People in China, the world’s top source market for international tourists, spent 20% more on international travel.

In the United States, the world’s second largest market, the rise was 8%, as the strong dollar made foreign travel cheaper.

In 2015, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% from the previous year, to 1.2 billion.

The UN body said it expects the figure will grow again by 4% this year.