Economic crisis hits world tourism: UNWTO

January 27th, 2009 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Jan 27 (DPA) 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 two percent to 924 million in 2008, according to preliminary figures released by the UN agency at its headquarters in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

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 one percent.

The downward trend is expected to continue this year, when tourism appears set to stagnate or even decline by up to two percent, 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 three-percent drop in tourism.

The best overall performances were in the Middle East (up 11 percent), Africa (up five percent) and the Americas (up four percent).

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.

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