Caribbean still most popular tourist destination

This January 2015 photo shows a beach in Speightstown, Barbados, where Juma’s Restaurant is located. The beach offers pool-calm waters, an immaculate stretch of sand and free use of lounge chairs and umbrellas, and you can get a sandwich at Juma’s for $5.
Associated Press / Kavitha Surana

The United Nations says the Caribbean continues to be among the most popular tourist destinations, despite global concerns about safety and security.

According to figures released by the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Oceania joins the Caribbean in being the most popular regions.

The Madrid-based UNWTO said tourism rose in those regions by seven per cent last year, compared to Central and Eastern Europe and Central America, which rose to six per cent.

International tourism figures on a whole grew by four per cent in the first half of 2015, an increase of 21 million when compared to the same period last year, UNWTO said.

Besides safety and security concerns in some regions, UNWTO said the recovery of advanced economies and the slowdown of emerging ones have also affected tourism figures.

Lower oil prices and currency fluctuations, such as the weaker currency in the Euro area, have also played a part, UNWTO said.

“These results show that, despite increased volatility, tourism continues to consolidate the positive performance it has had over the last five years and to provide development and economic opportunities worldwide,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

“As UNWTO prepares to meet in Medellin, Colombia, for its 21st General Assembly, this is the appropriate moment to call for a stronger support to tourism as the sector has the potential to deliver on some of the most pressing challenges of our time, namely job creation, economic growth and social inclusion,” he added.

In terms of outbound tourism, data for 2015 so far shows a mixed picture in spending overseas.

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