International tourist arrivals in 2021 are set to remain 70-75 percent below 2019 levels, marking a similar decline as in 2020, said the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in its November 2021 World Tourism Barometer this week.
Commenting on the data, analysts add that the global tourism economy will continue to be highly impacted by Covid-19 with the sector’s direct gross domestic product potentially losing another 2 trillion dollars.
In the meantime, exports from tourism are expected to stay at 700-800 million dollars, significantly below the 1.7 trillion dollars recorded in pre-pandemic 2019.
According to the barometer, global tourism improved in Q3 but recovery is still fragile. The number of international overnight visitors increased by 58 percent in July-September compared to the same period in 2020 but was still 64 percent below 2019 levels.
The best third-quarter performance was recorded in Europe, where international arrivals were 53 percent down on the same three-month period in 2019. Arrivals in August and September were down by 63 percent over 2019, but still the best monthly results since the outbreak of Covid.
Between January and September, worldwide international tourist arrivals stood at -20 percent compared to 2020, a clear improvement over on the first six months of the year (-54 percent).
“Data for the third quarter of 2021 is encouraging. However, arrivals are still 76 percent below pre-pandemic levels and results across the different global regions remain uneven,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Referring to the emergence of the Omicron variant, Pololikashvili called on governments to move ahead with vaccination rollouts.
“We cannot let our guard down and need to continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, coordinate travel procedures, make use of digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility and continue to support the sector,” he said.
The report found that receipts and expenditure had improved in Q3 with Mexico recording the same earnings as 2019, while Turkey was down by 20 percent, France by 27 percent and Germany by 37 percent.
Looking ahead, the barometer’s analysts warn that new Covid-19 strains could impact the already slow and delicate recovery. The economic strain caused by the pandemic could also weigh on travel demand, aggravated by the recent spike in oil prices and disruption of supply chains.
The UNWTO reiterated its call for a coordinated response among countries to travel restrictions, harmonized safety and health protocols and effective communication to help restore consumer confidence.