Africa: Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $ 2 trillion this year

The coronavirus pandemic will likely cost the global tourism industry $ 2 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN tourism body said on Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow” .

According to the latest forecast from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the same amount was lost in 2020, making it one of the sectors hardest hit by the health crisis.

Despite recent improvements, the report warned that travel demand could be further affected by “uneven vaccination rates around the world and new strains of COVID-19 that have resulted in further travel restrictions in some countries.

In recent days, the emergence of the Omicron variant has led dozens of countries to reinstate restrictions on arrivals or delay the easing of COVID-19 travel and testing rules, causing great uncertainty for travelers. of the holiday season around the world.

Spikes in oil prices and disruption of global supply chains have also had an effect. According to the latest UNWTO data, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70-75% below 2019 levels in 2021, a drop similar to that of 2020.

“We cannot let our guard down”

Although a 58% increase in tourist arrivals was recorded in July-September this year compared to the same period in 2020, it remained 64% below 2019 levels, the United Nations body found. .

In August and September, arrivals were 63% lower than in 2019, which is the highest monthly result since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Between January and September 2021, international tourist arrivals worldwide fell by 20% compared to 2020, a marked improvement from the 54% drop recorded in the first six months of the year.

“The data for the third quarter of 2021 are encouraging,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. “However, arrivals are still 76% below pre-pandemic levels and outcomes in different regions of the world remain uneven.”

Faced with the increase in cases and the emergence of new variants, he added that “we cannot let our guard down and must continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, coordinate travel procedures, use digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility, and continue to support the sector. “

Uneven recovery

Despite the improvement observed in the third quarter of the year, the pace of the recovery remains slow and uneven across regions of the world.

In some sub-regions, such as Southern and Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean, North America and Central America, arrivals have actually exceeded 2020 levels in the first nine months of 2021.

However, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific were down 95% from 2019 as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Africa and the Middle East recorded declines of 74% and 81% respectively in the third quarter compared to 2019. Among the most important destinations, Croatia, Mexico and Turkey posted the strongest recovery during from July to September.

Caribbean rebound

The Caribbean had the highest score of any UNWTO-defined sub-region, with arrivals up 55% from 2020.

International tourist arrivals have “rebounded” during the summer season in the northern hemisphere thanks to increased traveler confidence, rapid vaccination and the easing of entry restrictions in many countries.

In Europe, the EU’s Covid digital certificate has helped facilitate free movement within the European Union, the report adds.

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