U.N. Predicts Substantial Drop in International Tourism for 2009

The United Nations has released a report indicating that they expect global tourism to decline in 2009 thanks to deteriorating economic conditions according to this story at MSNBC.

Overall, the international tourism market is expected drop as much as two to five percent, with Europe taking the biggest hit of all. But the highly diversified economies there are likely to weather the storm far better than smaller countries that are more dependent on tourism to fuel their own economy.

In 2008, international travel actually rose by two percent, but the second half the year saw a steep decline as the global economic crisis spread. That growth is in sharp contrast to the previous four year when growth averaged more than seven percent.

Still, Talib Rifai, the Secretary General for the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization, says that this is not a crisis for the tourism industry per se, but instead reflects the general economic trends from around the world. He says that the interest in travel is still very strong, but those who would generally be taking an international vacation are electing to save their money or take trips closer to home.

For those still intending to travel abroad however, this means travel deals should be abundent throughout the year, and likely into 2010 as well. A competitive travel market is a boon for travelers, so take advantage of the deals while you can.