Tourist arrivals around the globe reached 550 million during the first six months of 2013, according to figures by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a 5% increase on 2012.

Emerging market countries contributed the greatest share of tourist growth (6%) with advanced nations growing slightly less (4%).

Secretary-general of UNWTO Taleb Rifai said: "The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that travelling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economies. This underlines the need for tourism to be considered a key pillar of socio-economic development, as it is a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs."

Growth is likely to continue at a slightly slower pace in the second half of 2013.