International tourist arrivals worldwide grew by four per cent between January and June 2016 compared to the same period last year.
Destinations worldwide received 561 million international tourists (overnight visitors), 21 million more than in 2015, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.
Asia and the Pacific demonstrated renewed strength this first half of 2016, receiving nine per cent more international arrivals, the highest growth across world regions.
In the Americas, international arrivals increased by four per cent, led by Central America and South America.
Europe (up three per cent) showed mixed results, with solid growth in many destinations offset by weaker performance in others.
In Africa (up five per cent), Sub-Saharan destinations rebounded strongly, while North Africa continued to report weak results.
Limited data for the Middle East points to an estimated decrease of nine per cent in international arrivals this six-month period, though results vary from destination to destination.
“Tourism has proven 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.
“But tourism is also creating bonds among people of all nations and backgrounds, bringing down stereotypes and fighting fear and distrust,” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.
“Safety and security are key pillars of tourism development and we need to strengthen our common action to build a safe, secure and seamless travel framework.
“This is no time to build walls or point fingers; it is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility.”
China, the world’s top source market, continued to report double-digit growth in expenditure on international travel (up 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2016), benefiting destinations in the region and beyond.
The United States, the world’s second largest market, increased expenditure on outbound travel by eight per cent through July, thanks to a strong currency.
Third largest market, Germany, reported a four per cent increase in expenditure through July.