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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 16:55 GMT
Tourist slump 'costs 6 million jobs'
A tourist on a beach in Fiji
Security fears have scared many tourists away
The slump in the global tourist industry has cost one in 12 of its employees - 6.6 million people - their jobs over the past two years, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

After a dismal 2001, when a global slowdown was capped by fears about travelling engendered by 11 September, the industry had hoped for an improvement, ILO director general Juan Somavia said.

"The rebound expected... in 2002 simply did not take place," he said.

Attacks on Bali in October and Mombasa, Kenya in November had raised security concerns afresh, encouraging travellers to postpone their plans, the ILO believes.

The figures contrast with data from the World Tourism Organisation, which said on Monday that 2002 had 3.1% more international tourists than the year before.

But the group's figures also indicated that domestic tourism had seen a particularly strong surge, while other indications are that the growth has been in shorter, less lucrative trips.

Grey skies ahead

Despite the World Tourism Organisation's cautious optimism, the picture for 2003 is far from rosy, according to the ILO.

According to Juan Somavia, the stagnation last year caused a "continued loss of jobs without the slightest sign of a turnaround", and a recovery to 2000 levels could take till 2005.

Signs of a recovery have been observed since January 2002, he said, but it was proving slow to take hold.

And war in Iraq could deal further damage to the sector - not least because the World Trade Organisation survey had highlighted the Middle East as a particularly strong growth area.

The region received 10.6% more international tourists in 2002 than the previous year, when arrivals had fallen 4%.

That still leaves the region on 24 million visitors - far fewer than the more than 400 million who visited European countries last year, or the 120 million who travelled to the Americas.

See also:

27 Jan 03 | Business
16 Jan 03 | Business
15 Jan 03 | Business
06 Jan 03 | Business
06 Dec 02 | UK
30 Nov 02 | Africa
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