Asian tourism 'will rebound next year'

From tropical beaches to Beijing's Forbidden City and the Taj Mahal in India, tourism is a big driver of Asian economies and is poised to rebound next year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday.

Tourism in Asia was badly shaken by the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the travel and tourism sector in the region's developing nations grew only 1.7 per cent in 2001 after jumping 8.2 per cent the previous year, it said in a report.

The sector would edge up 1.8 per cent this year before showing a sustained recovery in 2003 and then settling down to robust long-term growth of 3.6 per cent per annum.

The bank said many governments were now looking to the Asian region itself for tourist arrivals.

"Governments and the tourism industry have taken steps to mitigate weakness in the industry, including security measures to restore consumer confidence and increased promotional deals, particularly aimed at local or regional tourists," it said.

"Developing Asia as a whole Ñ China and India particularly Ñ is expected to enjoy buoyant growth in tourism," it said, though it noted that nations with internal security problems would take longer to recover.

In China, the world's fifth-most visited country and the one that makes the most money from tourism in Asia, the number of job losses in 2001 and 2002 because of the global slowdown will reach 1.8 million or 3.4 per cent of all tourism employment.

For India, the comparable number is 900,000. Tourism accounts for 10 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and about eight per cent of all employment.

In Asia, it accounts for 9.2 per cent of GDP and about seven per cent of employment, but nearly half of the world's tourism jobs are located in the region.

China employs 50 million people in tourism and India 23 million.