Consumers are now traveling as much as they were before the global financial crisis, figures released by the United Nations this week have shown.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said November 9 that worldwide tourist arrivals between January and August 2010 were up on 2009 and 2008, which was a record year for global tourism.

Unsurprisingly, emerging economies are leading the recovery, growing through August at a rate of eight percent year-on-year compared with five percent for advanced economies.

July and August, the peak travel season for the Northern Hemisphere, set new records with 112 million and 108 million arrivals respectively.

The Middle East showed the strongest growth for the first eight months of this year, up 16 percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific which was up 14 percent.

Africa posted a nine percent jump, which the UNWTO said was helped by the worldwide publicity for South Africa's FIFA World Cup.

Arrivals in the Americas grew by eight percent and Europe posted a three percent rise, the lowest global figure, caused by an uneven economic recovery and the impact of the volcanic ash cloud in April of this year.

The UNWTO said that it expects full year figures to be between five and six percent higher than last year's, perhaps as many as 50 million more arrivals than 2009 and an improvement on 2008's record figure by up to 10 million.