Global Tourism Not Possible Just Yet, UN Experts Say ‘Omicron Variant Will Disrupt The Recovery’
Many countries rely heavily on tourism and are looking forward to things returning to normal. Tourism revenues are predicted to be 72 percent lower in 2020 than they were the previous year, which ended with the pandemic.
The World Tourism Organization stated on Tuesday that tourism arrivals are unlikely to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024 at the earliest. According to the Madrid-based UN agency’s World Tourism Barometer, the highly contagious Omicron form will ‘disrupt the recovery’ in early 2022 after last year’s four percent gain over 2020. Tourism earnings in 2020 were 72 percent lower than the previous year, which ended with the COVID pandemic.
“The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates, and traveller confidence,” the UNWTO said in a press release.
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In Europe and the Americas, foreign visitor arrivals surged by 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, last year over 2020. In the Middle East, however, arrivals declined by 24 percent in 2021, while in the Asia-Pacific region they were 65 percent below 2020 levels, and 94 percent down on pre-pandemic levels.
The statement said tourism professionals ‘see better prospects’ for this year after turbulence in the early months because of the Omicron wave. The agency predicts a 30 to 78 percent rise in international arrivals this year over 2021 while remaining far below 2019 levels.
Most experts say they do not foresee a return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, it said. Many countries are highly dependent on tourism and are eagerly awaiting a return to normal.
“The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at $1.9 trillion (1.68 trillion euros), above the $1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of $3.5 trillion,” the statement noted.
(With inputs from AFP)
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