Global tourism is recovering, says UNWTO

Global tourism is recovering, says UNWTO

The global tourism industry is over the worst and recovery in 2010 looks on the cards, according to the latest report from the UNWTO.

The global tourism body’s finding follow macroeconomic upward revisions from the IMF along with new international tourism figures to August this year. These suggest a moderation in the falls registered in the first half of this year.

In addition, the UNWTO Panel of Experts Confidence Index reflects stronger confidence in market conditions. International arrivals declined by 4% in July this year, a relative improvement when compared to decreases of 10% in May and 7% in June.

International tourist arrivals worldwide are estimated to have declined by 7% in the period January to July 2009, compared to the same period last year.

In absolute terms, the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide reached 500 million in the first seven months of 2009, down from 540 million in the same period of 2008.

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“As the latest economic data and prospects indicate that the world economy may be starting to emerge from its most severe recession of the post second world war period, in tourism too there are signs that confidence is returning and that demand is improving for both business and leisure travel” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

With the exception of Africa, all regions recorded a decrease in arrivals for the first seven months of 2009:

Europe (-8%) is still enduring the impact of recession in the majority of its source markets but the encouraging improvement in data for the peak month of July.

Results have also improved in Asia and the Pacific (-6%) where some destinations such as the Republic of Korea or Malaysia, are bucking the overall negative trend with significant increases.

In the Americas (-7%) though there was also a lower decline rate in July this has not been as significant as in Europe due to the fact that some destinations have been impacted by the influenza A(H1N1) outbreak.

Although the decline in the Middle East is significant (-13%), this is the only region, apart from Africa, which has posted positive results in June and July this year.

The positive results in Africa (+4%) reflect the strength of North African destinations around the Mediterranean and the positive results of destinations such as Kenya, South Africa or Swaziland.

“Long- term prospects remain positive if the sector is able to address its challenges in a coordinated and effective manner,” said Secretary-General a.i. Taleb Rifai. “Today, world leaders are working together in ways that would have been unimaginable at any time in the past, to coordinate and collaborate on economy, climate response and the development agenda. The tourism sector should do the same on the road to recovery and towards a more sustainable industry,” he added.