UNWTO: Despite small increase in May, appearance of COVID-19 version affects international travel recovery

The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues for the second year. Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85% below the 2019 level (or a 65% drop in ...

The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues for the second year.

Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85% below the 2019 level (or a decline of 65% compared to 2020), UNWTO data show.

Despite a small increase in May, the emergence of the COVID-19 version and the continued imposition of restrictions are affecting the recovery of international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to recover in many parts of the world.

The latest UNWTO data show that during the first five months of the year, world destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals compared to the same period in 2020, or 460 million less than before the 2019 pandemic. the data indicate a relatively small increase in May, with a decline in arrivals of 82% (compared to May 2019), after a decline in April of 86%. This slight growth trend emerged when some destinations began to ease constraints and consumer confidence rose slightly.

"Accelerating the pace of vaccination worldwide, working on effective coordination and communication on ever-changing travel constraints while improving digital mobility facilitation tools will be crucial to restoring travel confidence and relaunching tourism."Says the UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.

By region, Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the largest decline with a 95% decline in international arrivals in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Europe (-85%) recorded the second largest decline in arrivals, followed by the Middle East (-83%). ) and Africa (-81%). The Americas (-72%) recorded a relatively smaller decline. In June, the number of destinations with complete border closures fell to 63, from 69 in February. Of these, 33 were in Asia and the Pacific, while only seven were in Europe, the region with currently the least travel restrictions.

International tourism is slowly accelerating, although the recovery remains very fragile and uneven.

Growing concerns about the Delta version of the virus have prompted several countries to reintroduce restrictive measures. In addition, instability and a lack of clear information on entry conditions could continue to affect international travel during the northern hemisphere summer season, according to the UNWTO, but point out that vaccination programs around the world, along with softer restrictions on vaccinated travelers and the use of digital tools such as the EU digital certificate COVID, contribute to the gradual normalization of travel.

As for the projections when tourism will return to the "old" or pre-pandemic period in terms of the number of global trips, most respondents still see 2024 or later. Thus, globally, 14% of respondents believe that tourism could recover as early as 2022, 36% of them expect a recovery in 2023 and 49% of respondents in 2024 or later.

As for Europe, most respondents also view 2023 (40%) as the first year of recovery, while 46% believe that tourism will recover in 2024 or later.

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