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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 03:59 GMT 04:59 UK
World tourism faces uncertain future
Tourist in Thailand
Souvenir shops are among businesses that suffer
By Caroline Gluck in Seoul

Tourists chiefs from 100 countries are meeting in the South Korean capital, Seoul, for the World Tourism Organisation General Assembly.

The biennial meeting is being co-hosted for the first time - with the session held in Seoul this week and switching to Osaka, Japan, on Friday for four days.


There are predictions that the damage to the industry could be worse than that resulting from the Gulf War 10 years ago

The meeting will discuss the latest trends in tourism, including the relationship between tourism and sport.

But much of the meeting is expected to be overshadowed by concerns over the impact that the terror attacks in New York and Washington almost two weeks ago will have on the industry.

Around 700 people will take part in the summit - which brings together tourist ministers and industry representatives every two years.

The meeting will discuss the latest industry trends. Issues such as sustainable tourism, and the role information technology can play in developing the industry are on the agenda.

Downturn

But the meeting takes place as tourism across the world has been reeling from the impact of the US terror attacks.

Tourists
Tourists have been cancelling trips to Asia in droves
US airlines have announced plans to shed more than 100,000 jobs in the wake of the attacks, as a result of a sharp slump in business.

Governments around the world have moved swiftly over the last few days to help keep airlines operating.

Other sectors of the tourist industry - from hotels to shops and conventions - are also suffering as travellers opt to stay at home.

The downturn has led to millions of dollars in losses - and there are predictions that the damage to the industry could be worse than that resulting from the Gulf War 10 years ago.

The Madrid-based World Tourism Organisation decided to go ahead with its assembly after consulting the governments of South Korea and Japan.

The organisation's secretary general, Francesco Frangialli, said in a statement that it was important that world tourism ministers demonstrated through their presence at the meetings that their sector was a resilient one which had demonstrated many times in the past its ability to overcome problems and resolve crises.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul
"Tourism across the world has been reeling from the impact of the US terror attacks"
See also:

21 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asia suffers tourism downturn
17 Sep 01 | Business
Thailand avoids recession
28 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thais call time on Bangkok bars
11 Aug 01 | Americas
US warning over Indonesia travel
18 Sep 01 | Business
What now for tourism?
17 Sep 01 | Business
Travelling: Concerned, need advice?
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