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Global Tourism Back On Track

Global tourism is on the road to recovery despite worries over terrorism and the SARS virus, with visitor numbers expected to increase strongly for the foreseeable future, the British research group Mintel said.

Germany, Britain, and the United States, the top three nations for providing tourists, are expected to see 240 million people going abroad on holiday by 2005, up from less than 185 million in 1999, Mintel said. The number of tourists heading overseas around the world is forecast to grow right through to 2015, it said.

Germany will continue to produce the greatest number of foreign travelers in 2015, but Britain is predicted to overtake the U.S. for second place by that time.

“What this proves is that UK holidaymakers are a resilient bunch. People will resist giving up their overseas holidays.” Keith Betton, a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents told the report.

American tourists, however, are forecast to hold on to their position as the highest spenders. In 2001, U.S. travelers spent almost 60 billion dollars (53 billion euros) when overseas, well ahead of Germans at over 46 billion dollars and Britain with 37 billion dollars.

A key area of future travel growth is expected to be people from emerging markets such as China and Russia, as outward travel restrictions are gradually removed.

These two countries are forecast to see the highest growth in outbound tourism between 1999 and 2005, with average annual increases of 19 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Other factors were contributing as well, said a Mintel spokeswoman. “People are not taking long-haul trips anymore, resulting in more trips,” she said. “The growth of low cost airlines is also enabling more and more travel abroad,” she added.

World tourism has been in the doldrums since the terror attacks of September 11 2001. It was dealt a further blow by the recent SARS virus scare that led to a shortfall in tourism, with the Far East and Canada being the areas worst hit, and to a lesser degree the war in Iraq.

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