The world’s tourism industry could shrink this year if the United States falls into a deep recession dragging other economies down. So says the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation though it points out the US accounts for just 10% of tourist receipts worldwide.
The WTO remains optimistic tourist numbers will rise for the fifth straight year though perhaps at a slower rate than last year when global tourism reached a record with emerging markets strongest.
The Middle East increased visitors by 13.4%, next best was the Asia and Pacific region which was up 10.2%, followed by Africa with 7.9% rise, the Americas up 4.7% and Europe with a 4.2% increase.
The WTO called the Middle East “one of the tourism success stories of the decade so far, despite ongoing tensions and threats.” It singled out Egypt and Saudi Arabia as leading destinations in terms of growth.
The organisation said tourism receipts were an estimated 500 billion euros in 2006, that is about 1.5% of global GDP. Last year they rose by 6.2% from that figure and arrivals reaching a new record of almost 890 million with just over half of those at European destinations.