Tourism trending up worldwide

But 2009 was worst in a decade for US

Tourism is up by seven per cent
worldwide in the early part of 2010, according to figures released by the
United Nations.

The latest UN World Tourism
Barometer drew on data for January and February 2010 and indicated that a
year-on-year comparison continued the two per cent upturn registered in the
last quarter of 2009.

This followed 14 months of negative
results, said the report, but it issued a note of caution, reminding readers
that the comparison was with a very weak period of 2009, constituting the worst
months of the economic crisis.

In this context, the 119 million
tourists in January and February 2010 were down on the same period of 2008 by 2
per cent.

The UNWTO forecast for
international tourist growth remains at three to four per cent over the year to
come, even when taking into consideration the upheaval caused by the closure of
a major part of European airspace due to the Icelandic volcano.

The organisation estimated that the
consequent total loss of yearly volume of international tourist arrivals in Europe was under 0.5 per cent, and 0.3 per cent on a
world scale.

Challenges

Speaking at a conference in Sofia,
Bulgaria, Secretary-general Taleb Rifai said that challenges remained to the
industry.

“Although economic results have
improved significantly in recent months with a positive impact on tourism
demand we must remain cautious as many factors can still jeopardize the pace of
recovery.

 “The economic recovery is being driven mainly
by emerging economies while growth is still sluggish in most advanced ones. At
the same time, increasing unemployment levels in major tourism source markets
is a cause of concern,”  he said.

According to the latest statistics
released by the Department of Tourism, Cayman Islands
tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2010 posted increases both in air and
cruise tourism compared to 2009.  

US situation

The United States said last year
was its most difficult year in tourism since 2001.

The US Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration’s 2009 report, issued through the office of
Travel and Tourism Industries, said that there had been a decline in tourism
output of $100 billion during the year compared to 2008.

“With rising prices and diminishing
demand, the prevailing economic conditions forced the industry, and its
supporting industries, to jettison 400,000 American jobs, a decrease of 4.6
percent. This is greater than the average job loss figures for the rest of the
economy which was 4.3 per cent.

Food services and drinking places
cut back by two per cent, passenger air transportation services by 6 per cent
and accommodation also by six per cent.

“For perspective, the US travel and
tourism industry shed 1.5 per cent and 3.4 per cent of its workforce in 2001
and 2002, respectively, following the downturn facilitated by 9/11,” read the
report.

Fewer visitors

Nearly 55 million international
visitors entered the States during 2009, 3.1 million fewer than the previous
year.

The travel and tourism industry
generates $1.3 trillion in economic output for the United States economy each
year and tourism-related industries support 8.2 million jobs. Travel and
tourism accounts for 24 per cent of US services exports and eight per cent of
exports in general.

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