Tourism is beginning to show signs of recovery following the combined effects of the world economic crisis and the global outbreak of swine flu, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The number of international tourist arrivals worldwide in July declined by 4%, which is a relative improvement when compared to decreases of 10% in May and 7% in June.
In absolute terms, there were 500 million international tourist arrivals across the globe in the first seven months of 2009, compared to 540 million in the same period of 2008. Arrivals in 2009 are currently between the levels of 2007 and 2006.
Many destinations are showing a similar pattern of a gradual change for the better, particularly in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Africa is the only region to have shown an increase in arrival numbers during the first seven months of 2009, with the North African countries, Kenya, South Africa and Swaziland all reporting positive results.
Long-term prospects for international tourism remain positive if the sector is able to address the challenges of creating and sustaining jobs, as well as the transformation towards greener policies, according to the UN Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
"Today, world leaders are working together in ways that would have been unimaginable at any time in the past, to coordinate and collaborate on economy, climate response and the development agenda," he said. "The tourism sector should do the same on the road to recovery and towards a more sustainable industry."
By Janet Harmer
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