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Tourism recovers from tsunami in South East Asia

05 July 2006
Tourism recovers from tsunami in South East Asia

Tourist destinations in South East Asia that were devastated by the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami have bounced back in the first four months of the year, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

International tourist numbers have soared by 97% in the Maldives, by 25% in Sri Lanka and by 29% in Thailand.

Recovery in Indonesia, however, has been undermined by the earthquake that struck the region's second most popular destination, Yogyakarta, this May. Nevertheless, the WTO did not believe tourism would be hit in other areas such as Bali, Jakarta and Sumatra.

Overall, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.5% (or 10 million people) to 236 million between January and April.

Above-average growth was achieved in both Africa and the Middle East (of 11%) and in Asia and the Pacific (where tourist numbers grew by 8%).

Europe, however, experienced below-average growth of 2.5%, although results varied markedly between regions.

The strongest growth was seen in Israel and Latvia (both up 30%), Lithuania (up 16%) and Finland (up 15%). Avian flu outbreaks, however, cut tourism to Turkey by 7%.

Both Ireland and the UK achieved above-average growth in tourism numbers of 8%.

A strong performance across the Americas was slashed to an overall increase of just 2.7% thanks to a fall in tourist numbers of 0.4% in North America and 4% in Canada.

"International terrorism has now entered a more stable phase of sustained demand without big peaks and troughs," commented Francesco Frangialli, WTO secretary general.

He identified terrorism, higher oil prices and the threat of avian flu as the three biggest threats to this upward trend.

Rebuilding paradise >>

By Angela Frewin

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