Tourism to return to normal only by 2024: UNWTOtext_fields
Spain: Tourism revenue and traffic will only bounce back to pre-Covid levels by 2024, the World Trade Organisation announced on Tuesday. The advent of a fresh wave of infections across the globe, largely driven by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus.
The highly contagious Omicron variant, though mild, will "disrupt the recovery" in early 2022 after last year saw four percent growth over 2020, according to the Madrid-based UN agency's World Tourism Barometer.
International tourist arrivals were still 72% lower than what they had been in 2019, before the pandemic hit said the UNWTO in a press release. This was only a marginal improvement on the 73% decrease seen in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the body added.
However, there was still some mild improvement as global tourism experienced a 4% upturn in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million versus 400 million). The rebound was possible due to high vaccination rates across the globe as well as easing of travel restrictions by countries which allowed travel to bounce back, the press release stated.
"A challenging economic environment could put additional pressure on the effective recovery of international tourism, with the surge in oil prices, increase in inflation, potential rise in interest rates, high debt volumes and the continued disruption in supply chains," the World Tourism Organisation said.
While international tourism bounces back, domestic tourism continues to drive recovery of the sector in an increasing number of destinations, particularly those with large domestic markets. According to experts, domestic tourism and travel close to home, as well as open-air activities, nature-based products and rural tourism are among the major travel trends that will continue shaping tourism in 2022, it added.
Unequal vaccination rollout as well as closed destinations in tourism-rich parts of the Asia and Pacific posed a potential challenge for recovery although most experts were betting on 2023-2024 as the year when travel will return to normal, the release said.