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China expected to stimulate world travel economy in 2010

Although the financial crisis of 2009 greatly affected all sectors of the travel industry, the World Travel Trends report released on Wednesday in Berlin predicted a slight recovery from some regions, including a strong boom commencing from China.

Rolf Freitag, the CEO of IPK International, a world travel research monitor that tracks the trends in outbound travel demand, said on Wednesday: "China is very dynamic and is finding it 's place in the world. This year's economic recovery will come from the East to the West."

In 2010, IPK's travel research envisions that Chinese outbound travel will bolster a four-percent increase in tourism compared to Europe's stagnation and a five-percent decrease in the United States.

According to statistics presented at the 44th annual ITB Tourism Trade Show in Berlin on Wednesday, the tourism sector in Europe and North America has been hardest hit in the crisis, with a 19-percent decrease in 2009.

Professor Peter Greischel, who teaches Tourism Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, told Xinhua: "The figures appear realistic to me. I was, however, shocked by the U.S. statistics, which means it is still a depressed market."

These numbers do not bode well for hotel owners around the globe, who have seen a decreased revenue because of imminent price drops in 2009, nor for large airline companies, who were the most affected by less air travel.

Commenting on the Wednesday report, Austrian Airlines Account Manager Herbert Eckl said: "I hope we will still get our budget this year."

Freitag said he believes that although "it was unavoidable that tourism would become a victim of the financial crisis ... a turnaround is on the horizon."

For the ITB travel trade fair, which has been held in Berlin in the past 44 years, the number of participating exhibitors has risen to 11,127 this year from 11,098 in 2009. This might be a sign that business remains at least steady in the tourism industry.

This year's ITB runs from March 10 to March 14 at the Berlin Exhibition Center.