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Positive outlook for tourism in 2010 according to UN World Barometer

Thursday, July 1st 2010 - 00:20 UTC
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International tourist arrivals grew by 7% in the first four months of 2010 according to the latest issue of the United Nations World Tourism Organization World Tourism Barometer.

The growth confirms the recovery trend beginning in the last quarter of 2009 and comes despite the challenging conditions of recent months. While April’s results were affected by the week-long closure of European airspace, globally the pace of recovery is faster than initially expected, driven largely by emerging markets.
For 2010, UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to grow 3% to 4%.

The 3% increase registered in April marks the seventh month of growth in international tourist arrivals after 14 consecutive months of negative results. Still, growth slowed down slightly in April as a consequence of the closure of European airspace for a week due to the ash-cloud following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland.

Growth however varied between world regions in the first four months of this year. The Middle East is at +33%, although compared to the very depressed same months of 2009. Asia and the Pacific (+12%) also shows strong growth for the period, continuing the rebound that began in the second half of 2009. Africa (+7%) is at the global trend and the Americas (+6%) just below, while Europe (+0.3%) reports the poorest result.

The overall positive trend during the first four months of 2010 is reflected in the rise of the UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index. 50% of the Experts participating in the UNWTO Panel of Tourism evaluate the period January-April as “better” or “much better”. This compares to 34% for the period September-December 2009 and is the best rating since January-April 2008 – before the onset of the global economic crisis.

Other industry indicators such as air transport, which grew 6% in the first four months of 2010 according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), confirm the resilience of the tourism sector and the fact that recovery is underway. Data from the accommodation sector also reflects improved performance, with occupancy and average room rates on the rise again.

International tourist arrivals from January to April 2010 totalled over 258 million. This clear improvement has to be compared with the negative results of 2009, the worst period of the crisis, totalling 242 million arrivals. The current volume is still 2% short of the record year 2008, with 264 million arrivals in the same four months.

This year results will continue to benefit from the gradually improving economic situation, as well as from a number of high profile events including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the FIFA Football World Cup in South Africa, the World Exposition in Shanghai and the Commonwealth Games in India. Unfortunately, tourism has also suffered the effects of a series of natural disasters, including earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Southern California and Guatemala and severe flooding in a number of destinations including Machu Picchu (Peru) and parts of Europe.

Categories: Tourism, International.

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