UN tourism group predicts global decline in 2009

The UN World Tourism Organization said global tourism could decline by up to 2 percent in 2009 amid the financial crisis. The Madrid-based organization said Europe and the Americas will be the most affected. The UNWTO said in a statement Tuesday the world's most advanced economies are seeing their first major contraction since World War II and the organization "expects 2009 international tourism to be in the range of 0 percent to a 2 percent decline." The downturn follows four years of sustained growth, with a 7 percent rise a year on average between 2004 and 2007. Tourist arrivals worldwide during 2008 rose to 924 million, 2 percent higher than the previous year.