Global tourism improves

21 Jan, 2022 - 00:01 0 Views
Global tourism improves International tourism rebounded moderately during the second half of 2021, with international arrivals down 62 percent in both the third and fourth quarters compared to pre-pandemic levels (File picture)

The Chronicle

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
Global international tourist arrivals registered a four percent growth to 415 million last year while the tourism sector’s economic contribution rose to an estimated US$1,9 trillion from US$1,6 trillion in 2020.

International tourist arrivals across the globe were at 400 million in 2020.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said although the global tourism sector was moderately improving, the milestones achieved last year were below the pre-Covid-19 period.

The first cases of Covid-19 were recorded in China in December 2019 before the respiratory disease spread across all continents.

Against this background, countries worldwide imposed travel restrictions with a view to contain the pandemic in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

In a preliminary report, UNWTO said: “Global tourism experienced a four percent upturn in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million versus 400 million).

“However, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72 percent below the pre-pandemic year of 2019.”

It said this follows on from 2020, the worst year on record for tourism, when international arrivals decreased by 73 percent.

“The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at US$1,9 trillion, above the US$1,6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of US$ 3,5 trillion.

“Export revenues from international tourism could exceed US$700 billion in 2021, a small improvement over 2020 due to higher spending per trip, but less than half the US$1,7 trillion recorded in 2019,” said UNWTO.

Average receipts per arrival are estimated to reach US$1,500 last year up from US$1,300 in 2020.

This is due to large pent-up savings and longer lengths of stay, as well as higher transport and accommodation prices.

Last year, Africa registered a 12 percent increase in arrivals compared to 2020, though the figure was still 74 percent below the 2019 level.

In the Middle East arrivals declined 24 percent compared to 2020 and 79 percent over 2019.

“In Asia and the Pacific arrivals were still 65 percent below 2020 levels and 94 percent when compared to pre-pandemic values as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel,” said UNWTO.

It said the Caribbean saw the best performance (+63 percent above 2020, though 37 percent below 2019), with some destinations coming close to, or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Southern Mediterranean Europe (+57 percent) and Central America (+54 percent) also enjoyed a significant rebound, but remain 54 percent and 56 percent down on 2019 levels respectively.

North America (+17 percent) and Central Eastern Europe (+18 percent) also climbed above 2020 levels.

The first 2022 issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicates that rising rates of vaccination, combined with easing of travel restrictions due to increased cross-border coordination and protocols, have all helped release pent-up demand.

“International tourism rebounded moderately during the second half of 2021, with international arrivals down 62 percent in both the third and fourth quarters compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“According to limited data, international arrivals in December were 65 percent below 2019 levels.

The full impact of the Omicron variant and surge in Covid-19 cases is yet to be seen,” said UNWTO.

In the outlook, UNWTO said most tourism professionals (61 percent) see better prospects for 2022.

“While 58 percent expect a rebound in 2022, mostly during the third quarter, 42 percent point to a potential rebound only in 2023.

“A majority of experts (64 percent) now expect international arrivals to return to 2019 levels only in 2024 or later, up from 45 percent in the September survey,” said the global tourism organisation.

—@KazungaOliver

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