Asia leads world tourism recovery in 2010: UN

MADRID, September 3, 2010 (AFP) – World tourism rebounded strongly this year from the global financial crisis, led by Asia and the Middle East, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said Friday. But the Madrid-based body also urged caution, noting that some major developed nations have not yet fully emerged from the economic doldrums.

International tourist arrivals totaled 421 million in the first six months of 2010, up 7.0 percent on last year but still 2.0 percent below the record year of 2008, the UNWTO said in a report.

The results follow “one of the toughest years for the tourism sector” in 2009, when tourist arrivals declined by 4.2 percent following the global financial meltdown.

It noted that growth was modest in April due the closure of European airspace following the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, but results were strong in May and June.

“Growth was positive in all world regions, led by a robust performance of emerging economies, expanding at 8.0 percent compared to 6.0 percent in advanced economies.”

Asia and the Pacific, where tourist arrivals were up 14 percent, and the Middle East, where the figure was 20 percent, “continue to lead growth in the first