Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) has projected that international tourist arrivals will reach between 55 to 70 percent of the pre-pandemic levels in 2022 with Africa and the Middle expected to score solid recovery.
In a latest statement, UNWTO said results will depend on circumstances mostly changing travel restrictions, ongoing inflation, high energy prices and overall economic conditions, evolution of the war in Ukraine as well as the health situation related to the pandemic.
The organisation said more recent challenges such as staff shortages, severe airport congestion and flight cancellations could also impact international tourism numbers.
“Regional scenarios for 2022 UNWTO’s forward looking scenarios published in May 2022 point to international arrivals reaching 55 percent to 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022,” said UNWTO.
“In Africa and Middle East, arrivals could reach about 50 to 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while Asia and Pacific they would remain at 30 percent of 2019 levels in the best-case scenario, due to stricter policies and restrictions.”
Tourism was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which started early 2020 and travelling across the globe was restricted in a bid to reduce the spread of the disease.
In 2021, UNWTO said world tourism declined by 87 percent as compared to 2020.
“Rising tourism spending out of the major source markets is consistent with the observed recovery,” it said.
“Defying mounting challenges, strong demand during the Northern hemisphere summer season is expected to consolidate these positive results, particularly as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022 with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded.
This compares to 77 million arrivals from January to May 2021 and means that the sector has recovered almost half of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
“Recovery of tourism has gathered pace in many parts of the world, weathering the challenges standing in its ways,” said UNWTO secretary general Mr Zurab Pololikashvili.