The decline in tourism may have plateaued according to new report from a member of the UN World Tourism Organisation.
The October Tourism Barometer showed just a small decline – -3% for the peak season months of July and August – compared to the year before.
The figures signify a gradual pick-up in global travel and herald a more optimistic trend, according to the International Tourism Trade Fairs Association.
ITTFA chairman Tom Nutley said: “Despite the recession, 2009 got off to a good start for members with solid bookings and space sold well.
“Visitor numbers may have been down in some cases but this is not necessarily a negative and often creates an even more favourable marketing opportunity as attendees will be key industry players and more focused.”
In absolute terms, the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide is estimated to have reached 600 million between January and August 2009, down from 643 million in the same period of 2008.
The first eight months of the year generally account for roughly 69% of the total annual number.
Following negative results since September last year, all of these eight months of 2009 also showed negative growth equating to a relative decline of 7%.
However not all regions are struggling. Africa has continued to post good results, +3.8%, year to date and some others such as South America, Caribbean, Oceania and South East Asia, did better than the world average of -7%.
Hardest hit were South Asia, North America, Northern Europe, Southern and Mediterranean Europe (all four between -7 & -8%), Central and Eastern Europe (-10.6%) and the Middle East (-7.6%).
The Middle East was looking much harder hit pre summer but between June and September arrivals have picked up, showing positive figures.
The report comes soon after two other separate industry reports, which also point to signs that tourism may be over the worst:
IATA reports that in July passengers’ demand for international scheduled flights fell by 3% and in August by 1% with September showing a slight increase (+0.3%) after a year of declines.
And according to the monthly report on trends in the supply of domestic and international airline flights and seats by OAG, worldwide airline capacity for October 2009 is showing positive growth for the third consecutive month.