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World Travel & Tourism Council Foresees Continued Growth in 2008

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in cooperation with Oxford Economics, recently produced the results of research that indicates continued growth for the travel sector in 2008 despite the repercussions of ongoing global concerns. WTTC leaders revealed that the industry will “moderately be impacted” and signaled continued growth rates for 2008 “at a reduced pace.”

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, “The tourism industry accomplished a solid performance in 2007.” International tourism arrivals increased by nearly six percent, compared with 2006, amounting to some 898 million travelers -52 million more than 2006- and marking the fourth successive year that arrival’s growth has exceeded its long-standing trend of four percent annually.

Of the 52 million more worldwide arrivals, Europe received some 19 million, Asia and the Pacific received 17 million and the Americas some six million. The Middle East received five million and Africa three million arrivals. WTTC research indicated that tourism spending per capita has more than matched this increase.

WTTC President Jean Claude Baumgarten said: “Tourism growth has been particularly rapid in developing countries with the fastest average growth in tourism arrivals in the Middle East region.” He added, “These countries recognize the development potential of travel and tourism and therefore heavily invest in new infrastructure and facilities.”

Dubai, according to the WTTC, is a nation that has truly embraced travel and tourism as a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. In recognition of the vision and commitment of the Dubai government it will host this year’s Global Travel & Tourism Summit on April 20-22, along with pioneering travel and tourism companies such as the Emirates Group, Jumeirah International, Nakheel and Dubailand.

WTTC however expressed concerns over the challenges the travel industry will face in the year ahead. Its research indicated, “Deteriorating economic conditions, particularly in the housing and credit markets across the globe, are increasing concerns for the industry.” It also asserted, “The slowing down is likely to have a limited impact due to the growth of emerging markets and the easing in monetary policy by central banks.”

Mr. Baumgarten explained, “Higher energy prices are a two-pronged challenge as they squeeze household budgets and raise the cost of a key input for the travel and tourism industry.” He concluded, “Even this challenge has a positive angle as higher revenues are boosting oil producer incomes and raising available funds for investment in diversification projects often focusing on tourism’s undoubted potential.”

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