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(E) Tourism - Interesting data
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/8/2004 | Data | Unrated
(E) Tourism - Interesting data


Adriatic coast of Croatia - a HOT destination

LONDON After the triple shocks of Sept. 11, the war in Iraq and the SARS outbreak, the patterns of tourism around the world shifted last year, a new report says. The biggest loser was the United States. And one of the few winners, unusually, was the Middle East.
Those changes came to light in a report by the World Tourism Organization, a UN agency in Madrid, which suggested that while the fear of terrorism had deterred some people from visiting the United States, America’s measures against terrorism — tighter visa and security regulations and heightened security alerts — had also persuaded many people in the Middle East to vacation in their own region rather than venture farther abroad.
And, the report suggested, those shifts also bred a new kind of traveler, averse to long flights and to journeys planned well in advance, favoring instead cheaper vacations arranged at the last minute — often over the Internet and not too far from home.
Generalizations can be misleading, and there are many other factors in play. In Europe, the soaring value of the euro has sent some tourists hurrying to a seaside fix in non-euro (but baking hot) destinations like Turkey’s Mediterranean beaches and the Adriatic coast of Croatia. But that is not the only explanation. ‘‘In 2003, international tourism lived through an exceptionally difficult year in which three negative factors came together: the Iraq conflict, SARS and a persistently weak economy,’’ Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization, said in a statement.
As a result, the organization’s report in late January said: ‘‘Tour operators kept facing a difficult environment. Late booking persisted and ‘do it yourself’ is consolidating as a means of planning trips, strongly stimulated by the possibilities offered by the Internet.’’
‘‘Low-cost airlines continued their advance, most notably in Europe,’’ the report continued, singling out Britain where carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet claim about 30 percent of the overall airline passenger market, compared with 11 percent in 2000.
Over all, the report said, 2003 was the worst year on record for global tourism as measured in terms of the number of people arriving as vacationers at international destinations. Last year, the total number fell 1.2 percent, to694 million arrivals, a drop of 8.5 million from 2002. Perhaps the most startling statistic in the report is that, compared with 2000, when millennium celebrations produced a spike in tourism around the world, the biggest single victim has been the United States. ‘‘The big loser in terms of tourism volume is North America,’’ with a 17 percent drop in the number of international visitors arriving for recreational purposes from91.2 million in 2000 to 76.1 million in 2003. The United States, the report said, ‘‘is still seriously struggling to overcome the impact of Sept. 11 and the subsequent war on terrorism.’’
The second most affected was Western Europe, down 3 percent from its 2000 peak of 142 million tourists, because of the loss of ‘‘traffic from the Americas and Asia, as well as the weak economy in the region.’’
The report included a survey of 180 tourism experts from governments and private businesses in 90 countries, including the United States. The consensus among them was that 2004 promises to show an improvement as a pent-up desire for travel persuades many people to venture forth again. Against that, the international market is likely to remain skewed by the overwhelming strength of the euro and the weakness of the dollar. For Americans, the report said, outbound travel from the United States is expected to rebound as low inflation makes vacations accessible. ‘‘Nevertheless, a weak dollar could stimulate domestic tourism as well as regional traffic while doubts remain whether long-haul travel to Europe will also bounce back,’’ it said.
Of all the regions in the world, perhaps the most dramatic change in tourism came in one closely linked to the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq: the Middle East. There, by the measure of international arrivals used in the document, tourism was up by around 10 percent, from 27.6 million in 2002 to 30.4 million in 2003, largely because of tourists from one country in the region going to another rather than face political and economic difficulties of more ambitious trips. Those travelers, the report said, were deterred by ‘‘envisaged difficulties in traveling to the Americas for political reasons and to Europe in view of the strong euro.’’
The New York Times

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