Fewer people appeared to book flights in the second half of 2008 because of the impact of the global financial crisis, new figures have revealed.
Despite the international tourism industry enjoying a five percent growth between January and June, the final six months of the year saw a one percent decline, according to findings from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
The forecast for the flight industry remains uncertain for the rest of 2009. Should the economy start to recover, UNWTO says, international tourism could grow. However, it could shrink if the economy worsens further.
Commenting on the 2008 figures, a UNWTO statement said: "All regions were positive except Europe, which suffered a stagnation in arrivals.
"The best performances were registered in the Middle East (up 11 percent), Africa (up five percent) and the Americas (up four percent)."
During the course of the year, Europe and Asia suffered a decline of three percent.
UNWTO predicted last month that international tourism would "probably" experience negative growth during the next six months.