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Africa Records Increase in Visitor Arrivals for Q1 2009

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According to the June 2009 edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism declined by 8% between January and April compared to the same period last year.

Destinations worldwide recorded a total of 247 million international visitor arrivals in those four months, down from 269 million in 2008.

Given the changes in the outlook UNWTO has revised its forecast for the full year 2009. Taking account of the results for the first four months of the year and the current market conditions, international tourism is now forecast to decrease by between -6% and -4% in 2009.

The pace of decline, the UNWTO believes, is expected to soften in the remainder of the year, with the months May-August projected at between -6% and -4%, and September-December between -5% and -3%.

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

In Europe (-10%), the impact was high as the majority of source markets have struggled with recession since the end of 2008. Moreover, outbound tourism of the second largest market (UK) has endured the depreciation of the pound sterling.

 Overall, the Americas (-5%) have suffered due to the slowdown of the USA both as a source market and a destination. Still, South America was the only sub-region outside of Africa to buck the general downward trend, registering +0.2%.

For Asia Pacific (-6%) the decline in demand has been faster than expected and is particularly severe when compared to results from recent years.

 Although the decline in the Middle East is significant (-18%), complete data is not available and arrivals are still expected to be well above the 2007 levels.

The positive results in Africa (+3%) reflect the strength of North African destinations around the Mediterranean and the recovery of Kenya as one of leading Sub-Saharan destinations.

The negative trend in international tourism that emerged during the second half of 2008 have more than intensified in 2009.

 In view of the rapidly deteriorating global economic situation, economic growth prospects have repeatedly been adjusted downwards over the past six months. While at the time of the previous UNWTO forecast in January, the International Monetary Fund was still counting on positive growth over 2% for the world economy in 2009, a decline of 1.3% is now expected. Some still might even claim that is optimistic.

Tourism has been seriously impacted, given the sharp reduction in business activity, decreasing disposable income and associated increased unemployment, particularly in key tourism source markets, as well as political issues in some part of the world and other concerns such as Swine Flu.

 Exchange rate fluctuations have added to the general uncertainty and business and consumer confidence have yet to recover.

 Furthermore, the UNWTO believes that level of advanced bookings, coupled with the reduction in airline capacity, makes recovery before 2010 difficult.

There is additional uncertainty regarding the future of the Swine flu - influenza A(H1N1) - virus and its effect on demand in the short to medium term. It should be stressed, however, that at the moment no restrictions on international travel are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

2008 Receipts

International tourism receipts rose by 1.8% in 2008 (in real terms), virtually equalling growth in international tourist arrivals (+1.9% to 922 million). UNWTO estimates that worldwide receipts from international tourism reached US$ 944 billion last year, up from US$ 857 billion in 2007.

 Last year’s substantial increase in absolute terms is to some degree a reflection of the weakening of the US dollar, which boosted receipts expressed in the currency. In euro terms, receipts increased to 642 billion, from 625 billion in 2007.

In 2008, there were only slight changes in the rankings of both international tourist arrivals and receipts.

 In arrivals, France remains the world’s major tourism destination (79 million tourists) and in receipts third.

The USA is first in receipts and now second in arrivals after regaining the position it lost to Spain after the events of 11 September 2001.

 Spain ranks third in arrivals but has firmly maintained its position as the second worldwide earner and the first in Europe.

 China, fourth in arrivals, is still fifth in terms of receipts, while the reverse is true for Italy.

See other recent news regarding: Airlines, Aviation, Flights, First Class, Business Class, GDS, Miles, Hotels, Promotions, New Hotels, Visitor Arrivals, Cruises, Free Deals, UNWTO, Barometer, Statistics, Performance, May 2009

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