From sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches to the upscale hotel districts of Tokyo, the global recession has caused a steep decline in tourism worldwide. During the first three months of this year, the number of international visitors to the world's top 50 tourist countries was down 8.1% from the same period in 2008, according to the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization, an arm of the U.N.

Travel experts forecast a slight uptick during the summer vacation months, so that the decline for the full year may be no more than 4% to 6%. Still, that's a big change from 2008, when international travel rose 1.9%. And no one expects recovery soon. "The terrorism attacks on the U.S. and SARS epidemic caused short but deep declines in international travel," while the current decline will be "shallow but extremely long-lasting," says Frances Tuke, public-relations manager of London's Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). "Those of us in the travel industry anticipate 2010 to continue to be painful."

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