International tourist arrivals increased by 4.5% in the first four months for 2011, according to the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Between January and April 2011 destinations worldwide recorded 268 million international tourist arrivals, some 12 million more compared to the 256 million registered in the same period in 2010. April was the strongest month with an estimated increase of 6%, reflecting the late Easter holiday and contrasts with the weak April of 2010 when the ash cloud closed European airspace. January (+6%) was also strong, while February and March were comparatively weaker (both at around 3%). “Global tourism continues to consolidate the recovery of 2010 despite the impact of recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the tragic events in Japan, which are temporarily affecting travel flows to these regions. We should nonetheless remain vigilant as we face other persisting uncertainties such as high unemployment and increased public austerity measures,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary general at UNWTO. In separate markets, Europe exceeded expectations and posted the highest growth in the first four months of 2011 (+6%), but the Middle East (-14%) and North Africa (-11%) were considerably affected by recent developments. The Asia Pacific region witnessed a 5% increase in visitors, which included a drop in arrivals to the northeast due the earthquake in Japan but double-digit growth in the south and southeast (14% and 10% respectively).