International tourist arrivals grew by close to 5% during the first months of 2011, slower than the 7% rebound registered in 2010. According to the April update of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, growth was positive in all global sub-regions during January and February 2011, with the exception of the Middle East & North Africa. South America and South Asia led growth (both at +15%), followed by Sub-Saharan Africa (+13%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+12%). Asia Pacific, the region with one of the fastest growth rates in 2010, saw its pace of growth slow to +6% in the first two months of 2011. Results were better than expected for Europe (+6%), boosted by the recovery of Central and Eastern Europe, and the temporary redistribution of travel to destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe due to political unrest in North Africa (-9%) and the Middle East (-10%). The Americas (+5%) was in line with the world average, with strong results for South America and the Caribbean, but 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 (+6%) continuing to grow at a faster pace than developed countries (+4%). “These results confirm that in spite of several challenges, the recovery of international tourism which was remarkably strong last year is consolidating”, said Taleb Rifai, secretary general at UNWTO. “News is especially positive for emerging economies and developing countries, particularly for Africa where tourism is increasingly recognised as a driver of development, exports and jobs.” The growth for the first two months of 2011 is also in line with the UNWTO’s forecast for this year, which projects a 4-5% increase in arrivals in 2011. Neither the unrest in North Africa nor the situation in Japan, are expected to substantially affect this growth. “Although recent developments in North Africa and the Middle East and the terrible events in Japan will affect the results of their respective regions, overall growth in international tourism should not be significantly impacted,” explained Rifai. “Moreover, the fall in demand in Tunisia, Egypt and Japan is expected to have bottomed out and the recovery of these important destinations will surely be consolidated during the year,” he added.