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Tourism slump hammers Europe

/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.N. World Tourism Organization says international tourist arrivals in the first four months of the year have dropped by 10 percent in Europe, one of the worst hit areas in the world and the destination for half of the world's travelers. A look at some numbers country by country:

FRANCE: The world's No. 1 tourist destination, which derives 6 percent of GDP from tourism, reported the number of foreign visitors dipped 4 percent in June compared with a year earlier and could fall up to 30 percent when June and July numbers are in. Officials say French demand will make up for foreign demand.

SPAIN: Spain is ranked No. 3, with tourism representing 11 percent of GDP and employing some 2 million people. Government figures released last month showed tourist arrivals in Spain for the first half are down 11.4 percent to 24 million compared to 2008.

ITALY: Italian cities are empty, its beaches and highways full, as 18.3 million Italians head on summer vacation in Italy and another 7.7 million go abroad. The Italian Tourism Ministry says the summer vacation period could see an increase of 11 percent in domestic and foreign tourists — albeit for shorter stays. Eleven percent of Italian GDP is from tourism.

GREECE: Government and industry bodies say tourism arrivals are down 10 percent in the first two months of the year compared with 2008, and the figure is expected to remain steady for the year. Islands like Rhodes, and to a lesser extent Crete, are weathering the downturn with low-cost packages.

BRITAIN: The decline in the value of the pound has been a boon to UK travel industry, while fewer Britons have been traveling overseas. According to figures from the London tourism board, visitors in the first three months of 2009 from France, Germany, Italy, Holland and the Nordic states were all up from the same period a year ago.

GERMANY: Germans are showing some hesitation in booking their holidays, favoring last-minute package tours. Berlin tourism officials say arrivals in the capital were up 1.3 percent in the January-May period, to 3 million, two-thirds of those Germans.

CROATIA: The tourism minister says arrivals are down 8 percent to the coastal nation that has grown increasingly dependent on tourism, which powers 15 percent of its economy.

NETHERLANDS: Sixty-seven percent of Dutch will take vacation this year, down from 70.3 percent last year, according to a "Q&A Research" poll. A slight edge goes to vacations abroad: 4.1 million, compared with 3.9 million domestic holidays.

SWEDEN: Tourism rose by 7 percent to 3.1 million overnights in hotels, hostels and cabins, compared with a year earlier, according to June figures from national pollster Statistics Sweden. Swedes themselves accounted for more than two-thirds of that number, reaching 2.2 million, which was a 5 percent rise year-on-year. Foreign overnights grew by 11 percent.

SWITZERLAND: The Swiss Hotel Association reports a 7.4 percent drop in hotel nights in the first six months of the year.