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MANILA, Philippines (March 30, 1998 - Radio Australia)---A three-day conference of travel executives from the Asia-Pacific region has ended on a bleak note in Manila.

The Managing Director of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Jon Hutchison, told delegates the industry is facing its greatest challenge as a result of the regional financial crisis.

The future of Asia-Pacific tourism looked great in 1989, Hutchison said, but tourist arrivals at regional destinations in 1997 took a dive following a mixture of problems.

He remained upbeat about the chances of a recovery, however, saying industry foundations are sound and will grow once the region stabilizes.

Positive pronouncements were overshadowed by those of the World Tourism Organization which predicts tourism in Asia and the Pacific will stagnate or decrease this year.

Some 2,000 delegates from 40 countries including Europe and the United States attended the conference.

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