UN Agency Projects Decline in World Tourism by up to 6 Percent

The U.N. World Tourism Organization says that international tourism fell 8 percent between January and April 2009 compared to the same period last year due to the global financial crisis and the swine flu outbreak.

In the June edition of the "World Tourism Barometer", the UNWTO predicts tourism will decline by another 4 percent to 6 percent this year. This is a revised forecast from January, when it predicted a decline of between zero and 2 percent.

This revised forecast coincides with the International Monetary Fund's sense of the global economic situation. In January, the IMF was forecasting growth of over 2 percent for the world economy. Now, it's predicting a fall of 1.3 percent.

"The negative trend in international tourism that emerged during the second half of 2008 intensified in 2009," the UNWTO said in a statement, adding that economic growth prospects have been adjusted downwards repeatedly over the past six months.

The global economic crisis is a large factor in the downward prediction, as well as the additional uncertainty regarding the future of the H1N1 virus and its effect on demand.

All continents have suffered a decrease in travel, except Africa and the South American sub-region. Africa recorded a 3 percent increase, with Kenya noted as a popular destination. South America saw a slight increase of 0.2 percent. Europe is the hardest hit region with a decline at 10 percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 6 percent and the Americas at 5 percent.

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