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EDITIONS
 September 11 one year on Monday, 2 September, 2002, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Counting cost of lost tourism
Growth of world tourism industry

The date 23 February 2004, 896 days beyond September 11, seems a long way off, but it will be an important day for the world tourism industry.

It's being called "Travel and Tourism Freedom Day".

Tourism economists estimate that on that day the worldwide industry will have recovered all of the losses incurred since the terror attacks.

Tourism is a hard-to-define industry, and as a consequence is often under-estimated.

But its tentacles stretch far and wide: from the fisherman with a sideline in beach huts in Thailand, to the multinational hotel chain, which neighbours his property.

Its well-being affects 200m people, who are employed directly or in subsidiary industries in virtually every country across the globe.

The method of attack on September 11 - the use of civilian aircraft as a suicide bomb - was bound to have a major effect on the confidence of travellers worldwide.

On a worldwide level, the effects have been much worse than the Gulf War.

Jobs lost

Figures indicate the industry, worth $4.2 trillion each year, has slumped dramatically.

Worker in Bangkok
Tourists' behaviour has huge impact on livelihoods worldwide

The World Travel and Tourism Council, estimates that in the two years to the end of 2002, overall demand for tourism will have dropped by 7.4% - far greater than during the Gulf War a decade ago.

This is partly because last year's attacks have coincided with an economic slump.

It's estimated that almost 3.2m jobs will have been lost.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, says the impact has been significant.

"It has had a big effect on our industry," he says in an interview with BBC News Online.

"Our industry has had to adjust their costs - and our industry has had to try and get into new markets."

My refuge is at home

The American tourism dollar is particularly influential to the well-being of the world's tourism industry.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten
Jean-Claude Baumgarten: Optimistic

Added economic woes, have led to more Americans staying at home which has been good for the domestic tourism industry, but bad news for many European and Caribbean destinations.

"In a normal year 95% of the American market stays at home, and 5% travel overseas. This year 98% have stayed at home and done domestic travel," says Mr Baumgarten.

It's not surprising.

A report conducted two days after the atrocities indicated that half business travellers would take fewer overseas business trips in the future.

The survey, by market research firm Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, also found that almost 60% of leisure travellers would take fewer overseas trips.

But, a year on, are people less nervous?

Unfortunately, a new survey conducted by the same firm, shows that many are still reluctant travellers.

As many as 17% of leisure travellers say they are concerned about terrorism and will not travel as a result, with 1% more business travellers saying they are staying put.

Closer to home

The picture closer to home within the UK and across Europe is more mixed, but there is some evidence that people have been fearful of air travel.

London Eye
British Airways London Eye - a success story

For example, there has been a 25% increase in self-drive holidays taken by Brits this summer.

France - only a stone's throw from England - has proved this year's big European destination - up 4%, according to Abta.

In contrast, holidays to North America have been particularly affected - packages have fallen by 20%, for example.

Destinations close to the Middle East, and Muslim countries in South-East Asia, such as Indonesia and parts of the Philippines, have also suffered tremendous setbacks since September 11.

Feeling the pinch

Is this just down to September 11, or wider economic worries?

Sydney
Sydney: Some long haul destinations blossomed

UK holidaymakers have certainly been holding on until the last minute to book their holidays.

"I think we have seen some very unusual booking patterns. And you can pin that down to September 11.

"Although people are still keen to go on holiday abroad, people were waiting to see what happened before they actually committed, especially if they have children," says Frances Tuke of Abta.

But while package holidays on the whole are down 10% this year; other areas of tourism have boomed, particularly low-cost no frills airlines.

Their passengers don't seem to have been psychologically affected by the terror attacks.

"No-frills airlines are the biggest issue affecting the travel industry at the moment, " says Ms Tuke, whose association represents the interests of travel agents.

Dunkirk spirit?

Neal Baldwin, deputy editor of Travel Weekly, believes the British have been pretty resilient.

Travel and Tourism Freedom Day
23 February 2004, world travel and tourism industry will recover back to 10 September 2001 levels
It will take 896 days to recover back to pre September 11 levels
World Travel and Tourism Council and produced by Oxford Economics Forecasting

"Perversely some of the destinations like Greece which have been able to be much more price competitive thought they would be down because they were nearer to the troubled region, but they have done relatively well."

""I don't think the British are put off by acts of terrorists. They are a very resilient bunch - they like their two weeks in the sun."

Indeed, there is no hard-and-fast rule to tourists' behaviour post September 11.

Around the world tours are up 37%, according to Abta, although this is perhaps fuelled by redundancy packages.

Long-haul destinations, such as Thailand, Australia and New Zealand have been very popular with British holidaymakers.

On the rebound?

This September 11, tourism officials will meet in New York to publish a "White book", a compendium of statistics outlining the state of the tourism industry, and announce a new recovery action plan.

"It is on the way to come back. The psychological impact was very big because it happened in the United States and because of the media exposure," says Mr Baumgarten.

Pending any future similar incident, experts believe the industry will start recovering next year.

But, if another September 11 or similar tragedy were to happen again, Mr Baumgarten says his job would be even harder.

He finds it difficult to elaborate, such has been the shock and impact of the events a year ago.

"I am sorry I can not tell you," he says.

But one thing is for certain, it would require an even bigger marketing budget.

"It would be dramatic of course, and we would have to do what we have done on a much larger scale."


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26 Aug 02 | Business
18 Sep 01 | Business
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