Mexico welcomed 6.9 million foreign tourists by air in the first half of 2014, up 10.9 percent from the 6.2 million visitors who arrived by air during the same period last year, the Tourism Secretariat said.

The United States, with 3.9 million visitors arriving by air, continues to be the top source of tourists for Mexico, the secretariat said, citing Integrated Migration Operations System, or SIOM, figures.

Arrivals from the United States were up 13.1 percent from the first half of 2013, when 3.4 million visitors traveled to Mexico by air.

Canada was the No. 2 source of visitors to Mexico in the January-June period, with 1.05 million arrivals, up 5.9 percent from the 998,563 arrivals registered during the first six months of 2013.

Tourist arrivals from Britain totaled 204,878 in the first six months of this year, up 6.8 percent from the 191,855 registered in the same period in 2013.

The number of visitors from emerging markets, such as Venezuela, China, Colombia and Brazil, trended higher during the first six months of this year, the secretariat said without providing figures.

Mexico welcomed 23.7 million tourists in 2013, making it the No. 2 travel destination in the Americas.

Tourism accounts for about 9 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP) and ranks as the No. 3 source of foreign exchange, trailing only the oil industry and remittances.

The Mexican tourism industry directly employs about 2.5 million people. EFE