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January 18, 2017

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1.2b tourists travel worldwide

THE number of international tourists rose by 4 percent worldwide to 1.2 billion in 2016 as Asians traveled more, but security fears hit visitor arrivals in Europe, the World Tourism Organization said yesterday.

This represents the seventh consecutive year of growth since 2009, when global tourism figures fell 4 percent as the financial crisis and an outbreak of swine flu saw cash-strapped people stay at home.

The number of people living in Asia and discovering both their own region and the rest of the world rose 8 percent compared with 2015, the Madrid-based body said.

The Asia-Pacific area proved a popular destination — the second-most visited region after Europe.

But the UN body cautioned that while still blessed with 620 million tourists last year, the growth in the number of visitors to Europe had slowed due to security concerns.

The organization’s chief Taleb Rifai said the results in Europe were “very mixed,” saying some destinations recorded “a double-digit growth rate and some others a flat rate.”

The Americas saw a growth of 4 percent in visitor numbers, the body said.

Africa recovered from a sharp drop in 2015 due to security fears, recording an 8 percent growth.

Tourism represents 10 percent of global gross domestic product, 7 percent of international trade and 30 percent of service exports, according to the organization.


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