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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 11:27 GMT
UN holds emergency tourism summit
Thai fishermen repair their boats
Will tourists want to holiday in places that are being rebuilt?
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation is holding an emergency meeting to discuss how to lure visitors back to areas hit by the Asian tsunami.

Officials from about 40 nations are taking part in a two-day meeting on the Thai island of Phuket.

Many of the 250,000 people killed by last month's giant waves were tourists visiting holiday destinations in Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives.

Travellers are going elsewhere now, putting local economies at risk.

Vital business

WTO secretary general Francesco Frangialli said that the tsunami will be "global in its impact". The BBC's Tony Cheng said that in Thailand, for example, tourism is the country's second biggest industry, with Phuket alone earning $2bn a year from its many foreign guests.

Tourist dollars will help more than anything else to rebuild their lives
Roger, Phuket, Thailand

"Despite optimistic messages from the Thai government that the affected areas can be quickly rebuilt...many people have cancelled their holiday plans or switched destinations," he explained.

The BBC's Mr Cheng went on to say that many of the countries hit by the tsunami have written off tourist revenues for the next 12 months.

It is unclear what can be done to entice foreign guests, he said, but delegates in Phuket are hoping to work out an advertising plan among other things.

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