People are regaining "the lust for travel" after the combined blows of terrorism, a weak economy and epidemics battered the tourist industry in 2001-2003, with pent-up demand continuing to be released as consumer confidence rises and the fear factor has faded, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) said today.
The first four months of 2005 showed an average 8 per cent rise, a rate very similar to those seen in the second half of 2004, when international tourist arrivals grew by more than 10 per cent to an all-time record of 763 million, WTO added in a summary of its latest World Tourism Barometer.
"The geopolitical climate, the persistent weak economy and SARS have constrained tourism seriously in previous years and have left a significant amount of pent-up demand in the market," WTO Chief of Market Intelligence and Promotion Augusto Huéscar said, referring to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), mainly in Asia, in 2003.
"From last year on, we have seen this being released and the data indicate that this process is still in full swing. People are regaining the lust for travel and feel that the moment is appropriate to make the trips they postponed in the past years," he added.
Positive results are estimated over the first four months for all regions, ranging from 5 per cent for Europe to 17 per cent for the Middle East, with Africa showing a 12 per cent increase and the Americas 11 per cent.