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The travel industry still has a few challenging months ahead as all world regions continue to see decreases in international arrivals, according to the latest World Tourism Barometer report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). New data reveals that tourist arrivals were down 87% globally in January after the beginning of the year saw increased travel restrictions, new COVID-19 outbreaks and border closures paired with a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout.
Based on this data, UNWTO forecasts two scenarios for 2021 if a tourism rebound were to occur in the second half of the year. The first scenario points to a July recovery (and a 66% increase in international arrivals for 2021), while a second outline highlights a September recovery, with a 22% rise in arrivals. A swift lifting of travel restrictions, the success of widespread vaccinations and the introduction of harmonized protocols (such as the European Commission’s Digital Green Certificate) would need to be enacted for either of these timelines to come to fruition.
The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it.
- At the beginning of February, 32% of all global destinations completely closed to international tourists.
- UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to be down about 85% in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period of 2019 (a loss of about 260 million international arrivals).
- Asia and the Pacific saw a 96% dip in arrivals (the most of all regions) thanks to the highest number of travel restrictions in place at the start of 2021. It was followed by Europe and Africa (at 85%) and the Americas (77%).
“2020 was the worst year on record for tourism,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of UNWTO. “The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it. Improved coordination between countries and harmonized travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere.”
United Nations World Tourism Organizationwww.unwto.org