#Travel: World tourism numbers hit record 1.18 billion in 2015

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The number of international tourists rose by 4.4 percent worldwide in 2015 to hit a record 1.18 billion despite concerns over terrorism, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation said Monday.

Tourism arrivals were up by 5.0 percent in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas but fell by 8.0 percent in North Africa where nations like Tunisia were hit by terrorist attacks, it said in a statement.

The Madrid-based body had earlier predicted international tourism arrivals would increase by 3.0-4.0 percent in 2015, after expanding by 4.7 percent in the previous year.

Global tourism figures were hard hit by the global financial crisis, declining 4.0 percent in 2009 as an outbreak of swine flu also contributed to cash-strapped people staying at home but have risen in each year since.

Tunisia’s tourism industry, which had been recovering after the Arab Spring unrest, was badly shaken in March by an attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis, followed by one in June in the resort of Sousse, that killed a total of 59 tourists.

This attack and others came as North African countries still struggle to regain the trust of holidaymakers scared off by the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011.

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