Tourism is travel for recreational or leisure purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who "travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited".Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity. In 2007, there were over 903 million international tourist arrivals, with a growth of 6.6% as compared to 2006. International tourist receipts were USD 856 billion in 2007.
Despite the uncertainties in the global economy, international tourist arrivals during the first four months of 2008 followed a similar growth trend than the same period in 2007.However, as a result of the economic crisis of 2008, international travel demand suffered a strong slowdown beginning in June 2008, with growth in international tourism arrivals worldwide falling to 2% during the boreal summer months, while growth from January to April 2008 had reached an average 5.7% compared to its 2007 level.
Tourism is vital for many countries such as U.A.E, Egypt, Greece, Thailand and many island nations such as The Bahamas, Fiji, Maldives, Seychelles due to the large intake of money for businesses with their goods and services and the opportunity for employment in the service industries associated with tourism. These service industries include transportation services such as cruise ships and taxis, accommodation such as hotels and entertainment venues, and other hospitality industry services such as resorts.
The high mountains present its impressive, spectacular landscapes. Because of the great variety of plant and animal species, some areas in the mountains have been proclaimed national parks: Mavrovo, Pelister, and Galicica.
The main administrative center of the country is Skopje , with a population of 467,257 inhabitants. It's a place where many roads and civilizations have met and mingled. Other major towns are: Bitola , Prilep, Kumanovo, Tetovo, Ohrid.
The town of Ohrid, situated on the shore of Lake Ohrid, with its natural beauties, historical and cultural heritage enjoys the protection of UNESCO. Ohrid abounds with a large number of historical and cultural monuments, lovely beaches, and accommodation facilities.
The basin of Lake Prespa is another popular tourist destination with its wild beauty. The lake offers peace in several various accommodation facilities on Otesevo and Pretor tourist centers.
Lake Dojran, the smallest of the tectonic lakes, due to its mild climate and warm water, is considered to have medicinal qualities. There are several hotels and campsites on the shore of this lake, too.