UN predicts when global tourism will get back to normal


International tourism won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024 at the earliest

Global tourism saw a 4% increase last year, compared with 2020, which was the worst year on record as international arrivals plunged by 73%, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said. The highly contagious Covid-19 Omicron variant, though mild, will “disrupt the recovery” in early 2022, it added.

According to the UN body, tourism arrivals around the globe are not expected to return to their pre-pandemic levels until 2024 at the earliest.

“The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveler confidence,” the UNWTO said.

In Europe and the Americas, foreign visitor arrivals rose by 19% and 17%, respectively, last year over 2020.

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Meanwhile, in the Middle East, arrivals declined by 24% last year, while in the Asia-Pacific region they were 65% below 2020 levels, and 94% down from pre-Covid levels.

The agency forecast a rise of 30% to 78% in international arrivals this year over 2021, while remaining far below 2019 levels.

It said that tourism revenue in 2020 was down 72% on the previous year.

“The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 [measured in tourism direct gross domestic product] is estimated at $1.9 trillion, above the $1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of $3.5 trillion,” the UNWTO said.

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