Two tourists sitting looking at a map in Rome, Italy. LEHTIKUVA

International tourism is poised to regain nearly 90% of its pre-pandemic strength by the end of 2023, as per the latest insights from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The UNWTO's data reveals that approximately 975 million tourists ventured abroad between January and September 2023, marking a 38% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

Key findings from the recent UNWTO World Tourism Barometer include:

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United Nations headquarters in New York. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a dramatic turn of events at the United Nations in New York, a critical vote was held on Wednesday evening to advance a new international tax agreement. Despite the African nations' hope for unanimity, the result highlighted a global divide. Developing countries, losing tens of billions of dollars annually to tax evasion, remain marginalized in negotiating international tax rules.

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US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' week in Woodside, California on November 15, 2023. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Amidst the shifting tides of global economics, China's financial landscape is experiencing a significant transformation, influenced by the intertwining of political connections and rising geopolitical tensions. The Renminbi, China's currency, is emerging as a central figure in the global economic arena, paralleling the nation's market liberalization and expansion.

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Humza Yousaf. Photo: Scottish government

In a significant political move, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has urged the United Kingdom to officially recognize the State of Palestine. This appeal is seen as an effort to break the long-standing deadlock that has perpetuated cycles of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

First Minister Yousaf communicated this request through a letter addressed to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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Anadolu via Getty Images

Israeli forces have demonstrated – yet again – a chilling indifference to the catastrophic toll on civilians of their ongoing relentless bombardment of the occupied Gaza Strip.

As part of its ongoing investigation into violations of the laws of war, Amnesty International has documented two illustrative cases in which Israeli strikes killed 46 civilians, including 20 children.

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Scotland Flag at Edinburgh Castle. Photo: Jeff Nyveen

In a significant development, a new paper authored by External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson presents the case for an independent Scotland rejoining the European Union. As the seventh installment in the 'Building a New Scotland' series, the paper outlines the multitude of benefits that EU membership would bring to Scotland and its people.

According to Robertson, independence represents the most feasible path for Scotland to reclaim the advantages of being part of the EU.

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US President Joe Biden greets Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 15, 2023. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a historic rendezvous, President Joe Biden of the United States and Chinese President Xi Jinpingconvened in the serene setting of Filoli, an estate in Woodside, California. This meeting, only their second face-to-face encounter in three years, marked a crucial attempt to mend frayed ties between two global superpowers. The two leaders embarked on discussions encompassing a range of pressing issues — the ongoing conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, challenges in international trade, the delicate situation in Taiwan, and the need to restore military communication channels. 

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Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a significant move, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) have jointly called for an immediate halt to hostilities in Gaza. This plea came during their bi-annual meeting, where they emphasized their commitment to peace and denounced any form of hate or prejudice in Scotland.

Yousaf strongly condemned the terrorist acts by Hamas six weeks prior, insisting on the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen (NCP) held a press conference in Helsinki on 8 November 2023. Valtonen on Monday stated to reporters in Brussels that Finland will deliver four million euros in additional humanitarian aid to Gaza. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

FINLAND plans to deliver four million euros in additional humanitarian aid to Gaza through the International Committee of the Red Cross, Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen (NCP) confirmed to reporters in Brussels on Monday, according to STT.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced the additional aid last week.

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An injured Palestinian girl receives treatment at the Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 9, 2023 amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a strong show of solidarity with children affected by the armed conflict in Gaza, the Finnish Union of Students Training to be Teachers (SOOL) has unanimously endorsed a petition urging the Finnish government to safeguard the rights of children in Gaza and to foster a ceasefire.

The petition, titled "Educational Professionals: Ensuring the Realization of Children's Rights in Gaza," aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Finland is a signatory.

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A customer at the Finnish Immigration Reception Centre. LEHTIKUVA

In a striking development, the European Union witnessed a nearly threefold increase in unaccompanied minors seeking asylum between 2020 and 2022, with Finland reflecting this trend. Children constituted about a quarter of all residence permit applicants in Finland last year, highlighting a growing concern across Europe.

Today's conference by the European Migration Network (EMN) focuses on enhancing the assessment of a child's best interests in immigration procedures.

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