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Middeast tourism seen to grow by up to 5% in 2013

The United Nations' World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has said international tourist numbers rose 5.2% to nearly half a billion people worldwide in the first half of 2013, beating earlier expectations, Saudi Gazette has reported. In the Middle East, tourist numbers soared by 12.9%, but these figures should be viewed "with caution" because of uneven results and limited data, the group said. Growth is expected to continue in 2013 at +3% to +4%, only slightly below the 2012 level and in line with UNWTO's long-term forecast. The Middle East is expected to register growth of up to 5%, it said.