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UNWTO: Tourism to Mediterranean Destinations Recovering Fast

Photo source: UNWTO

Mediterranean destinations together with the Caribbean are showing the fastest rates of tourism recovery having recouped nearly 75 percent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels in terms of arrivals, found the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.

According to the UNWTO, international tourism saw a 182 percent rise in the first three months of the year, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in Q1 2021. Of the additional 76 million international arrivals in the January-March period, about 47 million were recorded in March, with Europe leading the sector’s rebound.

More specifically, based on UNWTO barometer data, in Q1 this year, Europe welcomed almost four times as many international arrivals marking a 280 percent increase over Q1 2021, driven by strong intra-regional demand. However, arrivals in Europe were still 43 percent below 2019 levels.

Data reveals that international tourism remains 61 percent below 2019 levels, with  recovery picking up pace particularly as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions. Of the total 45 destinations that have since June 2 no Covid-19-related restrictions in place, 31 are in Europe. 

The UNWTO has revised its outlook for 2022 due to stronger-than-expected results in Q1 2022, a significant increase in flight reservations, and prospects from the UNWTO Confidence Index. International tourist arrivals are now expected to reach 55 to 70 percent of 2019 levels in 2022.

The barometer notes that there are still risks to improving sector performance, among these the Russia-Ukraine war, which seems to have had a limited direct impact on overall results so far but is disrupting travel in Eastern Europe. Other challenges include high oil prices and overall inflation disrupting international supply chains, which result in higher transport and accommodation costs for the tourism sector.

According to the latest issue of the UNWTO Tourism Barometer, 1 billion dollars were lost in export revenues from international tourism in 2021. Total export revenues from tourism (including passenger transport receipts) reached an estimated 713 billion dollars in 2021, up by 4 percent in real terms from 2020 but still 61 percent below 2019 levels. 

Photo source: UNWTO

Photo source: UNWTO

International tourism receipts reached 602 billion dollars, also 4 percent higher in real terms than in 2020 with Europe and the Middle East recording the best results, with earnings climbing to about 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels in both regions.

The amount spent per trip is also on the rise from the average 1,000 dollars in 2019 to 1,400 dollars in 2021, the barometer found.

Lastly, according to the UNWTO Confidence Index, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the index returned to 2019 levels, reflecting rising optimism among tourism experts worldwide, building on strong pent-up demand, in particular intra-European travel and US travel to Europe. 

According to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey, 83 percent of tourism professionals expect better prospects for 2022 compared to 2021; 48 percent see a potential return of international arrivals to 2019 levels in 2023 (from 32 percent in the January survey) with 44 percent saying this could happen in 2024 or later.

International air capacity across the Americas, Africa, Europe, North Atlantic and the Middle East reached or is close to 80 percent of pre-crisis levels and demand is following.

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