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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Global tourism faces bleak future

The New Age

The UN World Tourism Organisation revised its 2009 global tourism forecast down sharply Thursday due to worsening economic growth prospects and uncertainty over the impact of the swine flu.
In the June edition of its ‘World Tourism Barometer’, the Madrid-based body forecast international tourism would decrease between four and six per cent this year. In January it had predicted a decline of between zero and two per cent.
‘The negative trend in international tourism that emerged during the second half of 2008 intensified in 2009,’ it said in a statement, adding economic growth prospects have been adjusted downwards repeatedly over the past six months.
‘There is additional uncertainty regarding the future of the influenza A(H1N1) virus and its effect on demand in the short to medium term,’ the statement added.
The International Monetary Fund was forecasting growth of over 2.0 per cent for the world economy when the UN body issued its tourism forecast in January. The IMF is now forecasting a global economic contraction of 1.3 per cent.
During the first four months of 2009, global tourism declined by 8.0 per cent from the same period last year to 247 million international tourism arrivals, the UN body said in the statement.
Europe posted a decline of 10 per cent between January and April while Asia and the Pacific region saw a decline of 6.0 per cent during the period.
Africa and South America were the only regions to buck the downward trend, posting increases of 3.0 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.
‘The positive results in Africa reflect the strength of North African destinations around the Mediterranean and the recovery of Kenya as one of leading Sub-Saharan destinations,’ the statement said.
International tourism arrivals rose 1.9 per cent in 2008 over the previous year to 922 million.
France remained the world’s top tourism destination that year with 79 million arrivals while the United States regained the second-place position which it lost to Spain after the September 11, 2001 attacks.



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