UNWTO: International arrivals down 80% in first 7 months

·2 min read

THIS year continues to be a challenging year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80 percent in January to July compared to the same period in 2019, according to the latest edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.

Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the weakest results in the first seven months, with a 95 percent drop in international arrivals compared to 2019. The Middle East (-82 percent) recorded the second largest decline, followed by Europe and Africa (both -77 percent). The Americas (-68 percent) saw a comparatively smaller decrease, with the Caribbean showing the best performance among world sub-regions.

Meanwhile, some small islands in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia and the Pacific, together with a few small European destinations recorded the best performance in June and July this year, with arrivals close to, or sometimes exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

This improvement was underpinned by the reopening of many destinations to international travel, mostly in Europe and the Americas. The relaxation of travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers, coupled with progress made in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, contributed to lifting consumer confidence and gradually restoring safe mobility in Europe and other parts of the world. In contrast, most destinations in Asia remain closed to non-essential travel.

“There is clearly a strong demand for international tourism, and many destinations have started welcoming visitors back safely and responsibly. However, the true restart of tourism and the benefits it brings, remain on hold as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, in a statement Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

Looking ahead

Prospects for September to December 2021 remain mixed, according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey, with 53 percent of respondents believing the period will be worse than expected.

Only 31 percent of experts expect better results towards the end of the year. The survey also showed that most tourism professionals continue to expect a rebound driven by unleashed pent-up demand for international travel in 2022, mostly during the second and third quarters.

Almost half of all experts (45 percent) continued to see international tourism returning to 2019 levels in 2024 or later, while 43 percent point to a recovery in 2023. By regions, the largest share of experts pointing to a return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later are in Asia and the Pacific (58 percent). In Europe, half of respondents indicate this could happen in 2023. The Middle East is the most optimistic, with a full recovery expected by 2022. (KOC WITH PR)

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