GENEVA -- Political turmoil, the global economic downturn and travel jitters have put an estimated 6.6 million people out of work in the tourist industry worldwide, and there is little sign of recovery before 2005, the United Nations labor agency said Tuesday.
The U.N. International Labor Organization said one of every 12 workers in the tourism sector had lost their jobs in 2001-02.
Terrorist targeting of tourists -- such as December's attack on a hotel in the Kenyan resort of Mombasa and the bombings in the Indonesian island of Bali -- and fears about a war in Iraq dampened hopes for a revival, its report said.
"Patterns such as 'sea, sand and sun,' and particularly the desire of many tourists to travel to faraway exotic destinations, are likely going out of fashion," it said, adding that there was a growing tendency to stay closer to home.
North America, along with the Middle East, has suffered the worst losses in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In the United States international tourist arrivals were down 30 percent compared with the year before the terrorist attacks, the U.N. agency said. Although total travel spending was expected to recover to $555.6 million this year, it would still be below the 2000 level.
Australia and Egypt also suffered a big decline, as did European countries like Switzerland, Germany and Austria, which were traditionally popular with American visitors.
Some countries, including Croatia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Turkey and Vietnam, saw higher numbers of tourists from neighboring countries, while in China there was a big increase in domestic tourism, the report said.
Overall, in 2001, receipts from cross-border tourism fell by 5.1 percent in dollar prices and the number of international tourist arrivals was off 0.6 percent.