Tourism growth will fall in line with the downturn in the economy, but the industry will not require the government’s financial help demanded by other sectors.
United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary-general Francesco Frangialli said: “There will be no tourism tsunami and we do not need a stimulus package for tourism.”
Addressing a tourism ministers’ summit at World Travel Market on Tuesday, Frangialli said: “The outlook is not bright. But tourism flows from emerging countries are increasing and the need to travel is now engrained.”
However, Professor Peter Keller, director of tourism at the University of Lausanne, warned ministers: “It is unlikely emerging economies will be the driver of the world economy.
“International tourism expands on the same path as GDP. Long-haul travel will suffer and, for the first time, we will see losses for high-end tourism,” he said.
Keller predicted “a slow downturn and a slow recovery”. But he added: “Crises are always limited in time.”
The UNWTO does not foresee contraction for the industry in 2009, but predicts growth of up to 2% in world arrivals against a long-term annual growth rate of 4.2%.
However, the organisation stresses this is an initial forecast – and foresees tough times for the UK, suggesting the country’s economy will contract by 1.4% in 2009.