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WTTC forecasts better times ahead

The launch of the World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC's) annual economic impact research on Thursday 11 March at ITB Berlin confirmed a 5% decline in Travel & Tourism Economy GDP in 2009.

"And 2010 will be a flat year," said the Council's President & CEO, Jean-Claude Baumgarten. 'Greece will fare only slightly better, with a projected 1% increase in Travel & Tourism Economy GDP.

While last year's recession was relatively mild by regional standards, Greece's future economic outlook has been clouded by issues of fiscal sustainability, implying a protracted period of stagnation.

In common with other mature European markets, the country suffered a sharp decline in visitor arrivals in 2009 (-20% through the first eight months of the year, according to the World Tourism Organization), generating a deep recession in the Travel & Tourism Economy.

But, despite the current turbulence, prospects for the long term remain relatively favourable. Indeed, given the subdued outlook for domestic demand, Travel & Tourism has the potential to be an important catalyst for growth.

"The annual growth of Travel & Tourism Economy GDP over the next ten years is forecast at 3.5%," said Baumgarten, "increasing from 15.5% of total GDP in 2010 to 17.3% by 2020."

Meanwhile, the number of jobs in Greece's Travel & Tourism Economy is expected to rise from 800,000 this year, accounting for a 18.8% share of total employment - or one in every 5.3 jobs - to 916,000 jobs by 2020, 21% of total employment in the country.

"Nevertheless, in Greece as in most other countries, Travel & Tourism has received very little government support since the beginning of the global economic crisis, despite its significant contribution to GDP, employment and investment," Baumgarten noted. "Think of all the support that has gone to the financial sector, even though its share of GDP is not that much larger."

"But this situation clearly cannot continue in the long term,'"he added, "if the sector is to realise its long-term potential as a major generator of employment, driving global growth, and alleviating poverty - especially in developing countries where it has a relatively high level of labour productivity."

WTTC maintains that it is crucial for government policy to support rather than hamper the long-term development of Travel & Tourism. And this means that policymakers need to be wary about placing extra burdens on this previously dynamic sector at this crucial time, when profitability is already under severe pressure.

"If the government ensure an operating environment that is conducive to business, Greece will see a strong recovery in Travel & Tourism demand over the next ten years," said Baumgarten, "and this will stimulate a recovery in investment, taking Travel & Tourism’s share from 14.2% in 2010 to 14.6% in 2020."

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Notes:

Travel & Tourism Economy GDP is the broadest measure of the economic contribution of the Travel & Tourism sector to gross domestic product. It records the activity of traditional Travel & Tourism providers (eg lodging, transportation, etc), plus tourism-related investment, public spending and export of goods. It includes both the direct effects and the indirect effects via the supply chain of


Travel & Tourism spending.

Travel & Tourism Economy Employment comprises the jobs generated by Travel & Tourism Economy GDP, the broadest measure of Travel & Tourism’s employment impact.


Capital Investment includes fixed investment expenditure by Travel & Tourism service providers and government agencies to provide facilities, capital equipment and infrastructure for visitors.

About WTTC

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the forum for business leaders in the Travel & Tourism industry. With Chief Executives of some one hundred of the world's leading Travel & Tourism companies as its Members, WTTC has a unique mandate and overview on all matters related to Travel & Tourism.

WTTC works to raise awareness of Travel & Tourism as one of the world's largest industries, employing approximately 235 million people and generating over 9% of world GDP.

For further information please visit www.wttc.org