International tourism saw signs of a rebound in June and July 2021, according to UNWTO
International tourism saw signs of a rebound in June and July 2021, with some destinations easing travel restrictions and the global roll-out of vaccination increasing in many parts of the world.
According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, around 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July 2021, down 67% from the same month in 2019, but the strongest results since April 2020. This stands compares to around 34 million foreigners. arrivals recorded in July 2020, although well below the 164 million figure recorded in 2019.
Moderate rebound for most destinations
Most destinations reporting data for June and July 2021 saw a moderate rebound in international arrivals from 2020. Nonetheless, 2021 remains a difficult year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80% in January-July compared to 2019. Asia and pacific continued to experience the weakest results over the January-July period, with a 95% drop in international arrivals compared to 2019. Middle East (-82%) recorded the second largest decline, followed by Europe and Africa (both -77%). The Americas (-68%) recorded a comparatively smaller decline, with the Caribbean showing the best performance among the sub-regions of the world. Meanwhile, some small islands in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia and the Pacific, as well as a few small European destinations recorded the best performances in June and July, with arrivals close to, sometimes even exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
The real reboot in tourism and the benefits it brings remains unresolved as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel
Confidence in travel is slowly increasing
This improvement was supported by the reopening many destinations with international travel, mainly in Europe and America. The relaxation of travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers, coupled with progress in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, have helped raise consumer confidence and gradually restore security mobility in Europe and other parts of the world. In contrast, most destinations in Asia remain closed to non-essential travel.
UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There is clearly a strong demand for international tourism and many destinations have started welcoming visitors in a safe and responsible manner. However, the real reboot in tourism and the benefits it brings remains unresolved as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel. “
Although destinations continued to report low income from international tourism in the first seven months of 2021, several recorded a modest improvement in June and July, and some even exceeded 2019 earnings. Among the top destinations, Mexico earned roughly the same tourism revenue in June 2021 as in 2019 and posted a 2% increase in July over 2019.
The same is true for outward journeys. Among the major markets, France (-35%) and the United States (-49%) saw a significant improvement in July, although tourism spending is still well below 2019 levels.
Outlook for September-December 2021 remain mixed, according to the last UNWTO Expert Group survey, with 53% of respondents believing the period will be worse than expected. Only 31% of experts expect better results towards the end of the year. The survey also shows that most tourism professionals continue to expect a rebound driven by pent-up demand for international travel in 2022, mainly in the second and third quarters.
Almost half of all experts (45%) continue to see international tourism return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later, while 43% point to a recovery in 2023. By regions, the largest share of experts pointing to a return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later are found in Asia and the Pacific (58%). In Europe, half of those polled say it could happen in 2023. The Middle East is the most optimistic, with a full recovery expected by 2022.
World Tourism Barometer Volume 19 • Number 5 • September 2021
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