Expected Growth in Tourism for 2006: 4-5%

International tourist arrivals worldwide are expected to grow between 4 - 5% in 2006, stated the World Tourism Organization, explaining that despite various natural disasters and terrorist attacks the recovery, which started in 2004, continued firmly through 2005.

Based on detailed results, provided by the WTO, the number of international tourist arrivals in 2005 is estimated at 808 million, up from 766 million in 2004. This corresponds not only to an increase of 5.5%, but also means a consolidation of the bumper growth achieved in 2004 (+10%).

For 2006 the current pattern of gradually slowing growth is expected to continue. Growth is projected to be around one percentage point lower than in 2005 but still somewhat above the forecast long-term annual growth rate of 4.1%. This outlook is supported by the continued good shape of the world economy in most parts of the world and the improved prospects for the eurozone economies, in particular its most important source market Germany.

Three major uncertainties remain for 2006: terrorism, rising energy prices and avian flu. Still, travelers overall have assumed the terrorism risk and have been undeterred by external threats, the Organization pointed out.

Africa led the way in 2005, with tourism growth estimated at 10%. Growth in Asia and the Pacific averaged 7% and the United States continued the recovery started in 2004 (+8% Jan-Sep).

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