International tourism will either stagnate or decline by between one and two percent over the course of 2009, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has predicted.
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO’s secretary-general, said that "it is not possible" to determine how long the global economic downturn would last or what its full impact would be on the tourism industry.
"What is clear is that tourism can play a critical role in the recovery process as a sector with a unique resurgence capacity and an immense potential in terms of employment creation and sustainability," he said.
The tourism industries in Europe and the Americas have been the hardest hit due to the effects of the recession, while the sector in Asia and the Pacific region is expected to experience a slower rate of growth during the course of the year.
Africa and the Middle East are also predicted to see a modest growth in their respective tourism industries.
The UNWTO revealed in January that the second half of 2008 showed flat or negative growth in terms of international tourist arrivals.
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