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Travel

International tourist arrivals grows despite terror

The number of international travelers in 2015 has reached a record high. While the number in Europe, Asia, and America grew, in the wake of terror attacks there was a clear decrease in travelers to Northern Africa.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at a press conference in Madrid said international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent in 2015 to 1.18 billion worldwide, despite security concerns. The year 2015 was the sixth in a row of above-average growth in international tourist arrivals.

The organization says travel numbers were influenced by the development in currency exchanges, the low oil price, and crisis in several parts of the world. UNWTO figures showed an increase of over five percent in international tourists in Europe. The Asia-Pacific region and the American continent also saw a similar increase.

Following several terrorist attacks in tourist areas in Tunisia and Egypt there was a decline of some eight percent in the number of travelers in Northern Africa. "Terrorist attacks in tourist areas have a short-term effect on international travel at the most", UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said at the press conference. He added the terror threat was now on a global scale.

Rifai called on governments to increase security and appealed to people not to cancel travel because of fear of attacks. The UNWTO, which is headquartered in the Spanish capital Madrid, expects international tourist travel to grow by about 4 per cent in 2016.

ak / sc (afp, dpa)