Economic crisis, swine flu hit world tourism: UN agency

May 12th, 2009 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, May 12 (DPA) International tourism will decline by two to three percent this year due to the global economic crisis coupled with swine flu, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said Tuesday.
International tourist arrivals went down by eight percent in January and February, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, the UN organisation said at its headquarters in the Spanish capital Madrid.

Those arrivals are estimated at 59 million for January and 58 million for February.

The areas most affected by the economic crisis were Northern, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, North East and South Asia, and the Middle East.

Africa and Central and South America, however, posted growth in the range of three to five percent.

Countries with growing tourism sectors include Lebanon, Morocco, South Africa, South Korea, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Chile.

World tourism already began declining in the second half of 2008.

Swine flu is also beginning to affect tourism, though it was too early to evaluate its impact, UNWTO officials said.

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