WTO Study Predicts Exotic-Travel Trend

WASHINGTON -- The hot trends in tourism as the next millennium begins will include traveling to the tops of the highest mountains, the depths of the oceans and the ends of the earth, the World Tourism Organization predicted.

Already, millions of passengers are taking rides in 46 tourist submarines, and last year 10,000 tourists visited Antarctica, the WTO said in its Tourism: 2020 Vision study.

Australia even is considering turning two of its three Antarctica research centers into summer bases for tourists, the WTO said.

The study also predicted rapid market growth for cruises, with total passengers increasing from 7 million in 1997 to 9 million by 2000.

Other growth markets will be ecotourism, involving nature-oriented trips in which part of the income is used to finance environmental projects; cultural tourism, especially to Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and theme parks.

One reason for the trends, according to a separate WTO Business Council study, is

that 21st century travelers will be "poor in time and rich in money."

The study, called Changes in Leisure Time: The Impact on Tourism, concluded that travelers will look for products that offer "maximum thrills in minimum time" or include visits to several destinations in one brief trip.

Increasing job pressures also will lead to a greater desire for trips offering relaxation without decisions or taxing activities, which bodes well for the growth of inclusive resorts, the study said.

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