19-Jan-2010 8:55 AM

WTO: International tourism on track for a rebound after challenging 2009

UNWTO released (18-Jan-2010) its World Tourism Barometer, showing growth returned to international tourism in 4Q2009, contributing to better than expected full-year results. International tourist arrivals are estimated to have declined worldwide by 4% in 2009, to 880 million, a slight improvement on the previous estimate, as a result of the 2% upswing in 4Q2009. International tourist arrivals shrank by 10%, 7% and 2% over the first three quarters of 2009. Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East led the recovery with growth already turning positive in both regions in 2H2009. Tourism receipts for 2009 are estimated to have decreased by around 6%.

Regional full year tourism results:

  • Europe: -6%, after a 10% decline in 1H2009. Destinations in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe were particularly badly hit, while results in Western, Southern and Mediterranean Europe were relatively better;
  • Asia Pacific: -2%, with an "extraordinary rebound". Arrivals declined by 7% in 1H2009,  and recovered to 3% growth in 2H2009, reflecting improved regional economic results and prospects;
  • The Americas: -5%, with the Caribbean returning to growth in the last four months of 2009. The performance was more sluggish in the other sub-regions, with the A(H1N1) influenza outbreak exacerbating the impact of the economic crisis;
  • The Middle East: -6% although the region had a positive 2H2009;
  • Africa: +5%, a "robust performer", with sub-Saharan destinations doing particularly well.
  • 2010 forecast:
    • 3-4% increase in international tourism arrivals
    • Asia is expected to continue showing the strongest rebound;
    • Europe and the Americas are "likely to recover at a more moderate pace".
    • Middle East is expected to return to growth.
    • Africa will continue its positive trend, benefiting from the extra boost provided by the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. [more]

UNWTO: “The global economic crisis aggravated by the uncertainty around the A(H1N1) pandemic turned 2009 into one of the toughest years for the tourism sector. However, the results of recent months suggest that recovery is underway, and even somewhat earlier and at a stronger pace than initially expected. Many countries were quick in reacting to the crisis and actively implemented measures to mitigate its impact and stimulate recovery. Although we expect growth to return in 2010, a premature withdrawal of these stimulus measures and the temptation to impose extra taxes may jeopardize the pace of rebound in tourism,” Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General. Source: UNWTO, 18-Jan-2010.

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