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Global Tourism Sector Registered 4% Increase in 2021 – Still Far Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed through its latest report that global tourism registered a 4 percent increase in 2021 compared to 2020.

However, the numbers recorded over the past year are still much lower compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Preliminary estimates from the World Tourism Organization showed that global tourism in 2021 was 72 percent lower than in 2019, TheSchengen.com reports.

Global tourism saw a 4 percent recovery in 2021, compared to 2020. However, international tourist arrivals are still 72 percent below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary estimates by the World Tourism Organization. This comes after 2020, the worst year ever for tourism when international arrivals fell by 73 per cent,” the UNWTO said in a statement.

The first issue of this year’s UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicated that travel demand increased last year due to increased vaccination rates and less stringent regulations. During the first six months of 2021, international tourism rebounded moderately, with international arrivals down 62 percent.

Arrivals also fell during the holiday season. In December, the tourism sector recorded 65 percent fewer international arrivals compared to the pre-pandemic period.

These numbers indicate that the pace of recovery remains uneven and slow across different regions, mainly due to varying vaccination rates, degrees of movement restrictions, and traveler confidence.

According to the World Tourism Organization, among all regions of the world, Europe and the Americas recorded the strongest result in 2021 compared to 2020. Europe recorded an increase of 19 percent, while the Americas recorded an increase of 17 percent. However, both are still 63 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

Regarding the economic situation, the World Tourism Organization explained that the contribution of tourism in 2021 is estimated at 1.7 trillion euros, higher than 1.4 trillion euros in 2020, but still less than the pre-pandemic value of more than 3.3 trillion euros.

For 2022, tourism professionals see better prospects. According to the latest UNWTO expert panel, 61 percent of tourism professionals believe that the global tourism sector will rebound this year, while 42 percent point to a possible recovery in 2023 only.

The UNWTO highlighted that “the 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.”

The UNWTO confidence index shows a slight decline in January-April 2022 due to the recent rise in COVID-19 disease and the spread of the Omicron variant.

Scenarios suggest that international tourist arrivals could increase by up to 78 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. However, this would still be 50 to 63 percent lower than levels recorded in 2019.

>> International arrivals and nights spent in the EU down 71.8% and 66.3% – tourism in the Czech Republic hardest hit

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