Rebound forecast by year-end


Hit by millions of job losses and a slump in demand due to September 11, world tourism should start recovering by the end of the year and return to pre-attack levels by early 2004, a leading industry figure has said.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, head of the UK-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), has said increased security and fading public fear should counter the plunge in world travel in the aftermath of the strikes on the US last year.

'This is a resilient industry and it will rebound,' Baumgarten said.

The WTTC, which groups travel industry chief executives, is predicting a six per cent rise in demand and the creation of 6.4 million new jobs in 2003.

That should help redress a 7.4 per cent drop and loss of more than 10 million posts over 2001 and 2002 that the WTTC attributes directly to September 11.

The global recession has caused further losses which the WTTC has not yet specifically quantified.

'We always said that the summer of 2002 will not be good,' Baumgarten said. '2003 will be the year of recovery and we will reach the level of September 10, 2001, in February 2004.'

The WTTC predicts a healthy 4.2 per cent annual average growth for tourism after 2003 and says Turkey, India and China will be the boom areas, with double-digit growth.

Baumgarten warned, however, that recovery would depend on an absence of further international crises - a scenario a possible US-led war on Iraq would naturally change.

With the United States and Europe accounting for a third of the world's more than 700 million annual travellers, Americans' distaste for international tourism post-September 11 has been the single biggest factor affecting the industry.

He cited figures that traditionally 95 per cent of Americans' travel was at home and five per cent abroad, but since September 11 the ratio had changed to 98 and two per cent.

'The Arab countries have been more badly hit than other destinations of course...all the Mediterranean basin,' he said, referring to heightened Western fears of more terror attacks following September 11.