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International tourist arrivals reach 440 million in first-half 2011 but growth expected to slow

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The reception of Kakum Park, a popular tourist site in Ghana

The number of international tourist arrivals for the first half of 2011 (January to June) has reached 440 million record high, according to new figures released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Barometer September 7, 2011.

The UNTWO estimates that tourist arrivals have grown by 4.5% in the first half of 2011, consolidating the 6.6% increase registered in 2010 which recorded 940 million tourists with tourism receipts up by 4.7% in real terms reaching $919 billion.

“Between January and June of this year, the total number of arrivals reached 440 million, 19 million more than in the same period of 2010,” said the UN agency in a statement.

UNWTO barometer indicates that the growth in advanced economies has maintained strength by 4.3% and is closing the gap with emerging economies of 4.8% growth, which have been driving international tourism growth in recent years.

“All world (sub) regions showed positive trends with the exception of the Middle East and North Africa. Results were better than expected in Europe (+6%). Sub-Saharan Africa (+9%) continued to perform soundly. The Americas (+6%) was slightly above the world average, with remarkably strong results for South America (+15%). Asia and the Pacific grew at a comparatively slower pace of 5%, but this more than consolidates its 13% bumper growth of 2010.”

Following an encouraging first half of 2011, UNWTO says growth in the remainder of the year is expected to soften somewhat as recent months have brought increased uncertainty, hampering business and consumer confidence.

“We must remain cautious as the global economy is showing signs of increased volatility. Many advanced economies still face risks posed by weak growth, fiscal problems and persistently high unemployment,” said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General.

Simultaneously, signs of overheating have become apparent in some emerging economies. Restoring sustained and balanced economic growth remains a major task, Rifai noted.

By Ekow Quandzie

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