Economic crisis hits world tourism
The volatile world economy has begun affecting international tourism, bringing its growth to a standstill in the second half of 2008, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said Tuesday.
Overall, tourist arrivals went up 2 per cent to 924 million in 2008, according to preliminary figures released by the UN agency at its headquarters in the Spanish capital of Madrid, reported dpa.
But that growth was based on good results from the first six months of 2008. In the second half of the year, the financial crisis, oil and commodity price rises, and exchange rate fluctuations made tourism decline by 1 per cent.
The downward trend is expected to continue this year, when tourism appears set to stagnate or even decline by up to 2 per cent, the first time that has happened since 2003.
For 2008 as a whole, all regions posted positive results, except for stagnant Europe, many of whose source markets have suffered heavily from the crisis.
Growth was negative in the second half of 2008 in Europe and Asia, with both registering a 3-per-cent drop in tourism.
The best overall performances were in the Middle East (up 11 per cent), Africa (up 5 per cent) and the Americas (up 4 per cent).
The best-performing destinations included Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay, South Korea, Macao, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey.
France and Spain remain the world's top tourism destinations, according to UNWTO officials. dpa st ncs