Travel pinched by global financial crisis

Financial Crisis Posted on

The tourists chatting in multiple languages in the piazzas, bars and shops of Rome belie a more somber mood at the ancient city's hotels.

Luigi Rinaldi, concierge of the Hotel de la Minerve next to the Pantheon, said American tourists have disappeared, although demand among German, Spanish and Russian tourists is solid.

The hotel is trying to lure guests by keeping prices steady — even during the high season at Christmas and New Year's — and by adding weekend promotions.

"But we are a five-star hotel," Rinaldi said. "We can't be too daring."

Rome is among many major cities around the world seeing dramatic declines in hotel occupancy this fall as consumers and businesses cut travel spending: Occupancy in Rome fell 17.5 percent in October compared with the same month last year.

Global air travel also has fallen off as the financial crisis that has hit economies around the world takes its toll. Executives from major airlines speaking at a conference in New York on Tuesday may reveal further erosion of demand for seats and discuss capacity reductions they'll make in response.

The International Air Transport Association says international passenger traffic declined 1.3 percent in October compared with 2007, following a 2.9 percent drop in September.

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