International tourist arrivals grew by close to five per cent during the first months of 2011, consolidating the seven per cent rebound registered in 2010, according to UNWTO figures.
According to the April Interim Update of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, growth was positive in all world (sub)regions during January and February 2011, with the exception of the Middle East and North Africa.
South America and South Asia led growth (both at up 15 per cent), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (up 13 per cent) and central and eastern Europe (with a 12 per cent increase).
Asia and the Pacific, the region with one of the fastest growth rates in 2010, saw its pace of growth slow down to six per cent, although from a very strong performance the previous year.
Results were better than expected for Europe (six per cent up), boosted by the recovery of Central and Eastern Europe, and the temporary redistribution of travel to destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe due to developments in North Africa (down nine per cent) and the Middle East (down ten per cent).
The Americas (up five per cent) was in line with the world average, with strong results for South America and the Caribbean, but rather weaker growth in North and Central America.
Worldwide, international tourist arrivals surpassed 124 million in the first two months of 2011, up from 119 million in the same period of 2010, with emerging economies (up six per cent) continuing to grow at a faster pace than advanced ones (up four per cent).
“These results confirm that in spite of several challenges, the recovery of international tourism which was remarkably strong last year is consolidating”, said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai in Istanbul, Turkey.
“News is especially positive for emerging economies and developing countries, particularly for Africa where tourism is increasingly recognized as a driver of development, exports and jobs,” he added.