Global tourism recovery continues to improve

International tourism is consolidating its strong recovery despite growing economic and geopolitical challenges, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said in a recent report. “Tourism recovery has accelerated in many parts of the world, overcoming obstacles in its path,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. With nearly 250 million international arrivals, international tourism rebounded strongly during the first five months of 2022, noted experts from the United Nations specialized agency in the latest World Tourism Barometer. UNWTO. “This figure corresponds to the 77 million arrivals recorded from January to May 2021 and shows that the sector has recovered almost half (46%) of the levels before the 2019 pandemic”, underlined in its report the organization. intended to promote and develop tourism in the world. Leading the recovery, along with America, Europe welcomed more than four times as many international arrivals as in the first five months of 2021 (+350%). Arrivals “stimulated by strong intra-regional demand and the lifting of all travel restrictions in a growing number of countries”, explained the organization, adding that the region recorded very strong performances in April (+458%), with a busy Easter period. On the side of the Americas, the data shows that the number of arrivals has more than doubled (+112%). The international organization is however keen to clarify that “this significant rebound is measured by the weak results of 2021 and arrivals remain overall 36% and 40% below 2019 levels in the two regions, respectively” and that the same pattern observed in other regions of the world. Regarding the other regions, the observation is that the strong growth in the Middle East (+157%) and in Africa (+156%) remained respectively 54% and 50% below the levels of 2019. Asia and the Pacific, it appears that these two regions “almost doubled arrivals (+94%), although the figures were 90% lower than in 2019, as some borders remained closed to non-essential travel”, according to the observations of the UNWTO noting, again, that the recent easing of restrictions translates into an improvement in the results for April and May. In its report, the world tourism organization further noted that several sub-regions have recovered between 70% and 80% of their pre-pandemic levels, led by the Caribbean and Central America, followed by Southern Mediterranean, Western and Northern Europe. Better, “some destinations exceeded 2019 levels, including the US Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, the Republic of Moldova, Albania, Honduras and Puerto Rico,” she said. Commenting on the evolution of tourism spending over the same period, UNWTO found that the rise in tourism spending from major source markets goes hand in hand with the observed recovery. And that in terms of international tourism revenue earned in destinations, an increasing number of countries have fully recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. Addressing the growing challenges facing the sector, UNWTO said strong demand during the Northern Hemisphere summer season is expected to consolidate these positive results, particularly as more and more destinations ease or lift restrictions. of travel. As the organization notes in a press release, “as of July 22, 62 destinations (including 39 in Europe) had no COVID-19 restrictions and a growing number of destinations in Asia have begun to ease their restrictions”. Furthermore, and according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the overall reduction in international air capacity in 2022 will be limited to 20% – 25% of seats offered by airlines compared to 2019. further that “stronger-than-expected demand, however, created significant operational and labor challenges, while the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and interest rates, as well as fears of an economic slowdown pose a threat to the recovery”. In addition, the International Monetary Fund forecasts a slowdown in the world economy, which would drop from 3.2% in 2022 to 2.9% in 2023; while UNWTO in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) will continue to monitor the pandemic, emerging public health emergencies and their potential impact on travel. Whatever happens, and in the face of “headwinds and geopolitical challenges likely to impact the sector by 2022 and beyond”, Zurab Pololikashvili still urged caution. Alain Bouithy