Global tourism grows, but remains far below pre-pandemic levels: UNWTO

The global travel industry was most affected by the pandemic, when international borders closed so as to prevent the influx of more coronavirus cases. With the vaccine availability, travelling resumed, but has it gone back to what it was like pre-Covid?

The answer is no.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed in its latest report that global tourism experienced a 4 per cent upturn in 2021, compared to 2020. But, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72 per cent below the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicated in its first 2022 issue that with increase in vaccination rate and the ease of travel restrictions — “due to increased cross-border coordination and protocols” — tourists have been able to release their pent-up travel demand. In fact, in the second half of 2021, international tourism rebounded as well, but arrivals in December were 65 per cent below 2019 levels, it stated.

Per the report, the UNWTO panel of experts have said most tourism professionals (61 per cent) predict better prospects for 2022. Around 58 per cent expect a travel rebound this year. A majority of experts (64 per cent), however, expect international arrivals to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024 or later.

How to effectively recover international tourism

The UNWTO Confidence Index indicated a slight decline in the January-April 2022 period. It suggested that a “rapid and more widespread vaccination roll-out”, “a major lifting of travel restrictions”, “more coordination and clearer information on travel protocols”, are factors that can help recover international tourism.

The report stated that international tourist arrivals could grow by 30 per cent to 78 per cent this year, as compared to 2021 — but, it would still be 50 per cent to 63 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

What about domestic tourism?

In countries which have “large domestic markets”, domestic tourism is continuing to aid the recovery of the travel sector, the UNWTO stated. Its experts said “domestic tourism”, travelling “close to home”, “open-air activities”, “nature-based products” and “rural tourism” are among the major travel trends that will shape tourism in 2022.

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!