Africa recorded a 5 percent increase in international tourist arrivals in the first half of this year aided by a 12 percent growth in sub-Saharan Africa while the northern part of the continent continues to suffer declines, latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) data shows.North Africa, which previously was the main volume driver for the continent, is yet to fully recover from tragedies recorded in the last few years related to terrorist attacks and the Arab springs, and registered a 9 percent decline during the period.
"Safety and security are key pillars of tourism development and we need to strengthen our common action to build a safe, secure and seamless travel framework.
"This is no time to build walls or point fingers. It is time to build an alliance based on a shared vision and a joint responsibility," said UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai.
He said the sector continued to create jobs for millions worldwide and was helping create "bonds among people of all nations and backgrounds, bringing down stereotypes and fighting fear and distrust."
Africa, however, continues to enjoy a smaller cake of global tourism earnings, an issue that is one of the focal rallying points for aspiring UNWTO secretary general Walter Mzembi, who is aiming to boost the numbers to double digits if elected to take over from Rifai next year.
According to the UNWTO data, overall international tourist arrivals were up 4 percent during the first half of this year compared to the previous one.
"Destinations worldwide received 561 million international tourists (overnight visitors), 21 million more than in 2015," the UNWTO said.
In terms of regional performance, Asia and the Pacific led the way with a 9 percent growth in international arrivals followed by Africa at 5 percent, the America's at 4 percent and Europe at 3 percent.
The UNWTO said prospects for the second half of the year remained positive.
"The first half of the year typically accounts for around 46 percent of the total international arrivals count of the year. For the remainder of 2016 prospects are positive overall," it said.
"Confidence is highest in Africa, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific, while experts in Europe and the Middle East are somewhat more cautious."