Tourism Grows Amidst Uncertainty – UNWTO

Global international tourist arrivals more than doubled (+130 per cent) in January 2022 compared to 2021, according to UNWTO. However, new uncertainties have emerged, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and many COVID-related travel restrictions, which could affect the overall confidence of tourism recovery.

There were 18 million more visitors recorded worldwide in the first month of this year compared to 2021. However, international arrivals in January 2022 remained 67 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. This was impacted by the emergences of the Omicron variant and the re-introduction of travel restrictions in several destinations.

All regions enjoyed a significant rebound in January 2022 from low levels of 2021. Europe (+199 per cent) and the Americas (+97 per cent) continued to post the strongest results with international arrivals still around half pre-pandemic levels (-53 per cent and -52 per cent, respectively). By sub regions, the best results were recorded by Western Europe, registering four times more arrivals in January 2022 than in 2021, but 58 per cent less than in 2019. Maldives is among the islands in Asia and Pacific that recorded the best results compared to 2019 (-13 per cent). Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina even exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 2 per cent.

As of 24 March, twelve destinations had no COVID-19 related restrictions in place and an increasing number of destinations were easing or lifting travel restrictions. International tourism is expected to continue its gradual recovery. However, with Russia and Ukraine accounted for a combined 3 per cent of global spending on international tourism in 2020, the ongoing conflict could cost the loss of at least US$ 14 billion in global tourism receipts. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates global economic growth could be more than 1 per cent lower this year than previously projected, while inflation, already high at the start of the year, could be at least a further 2.5 per cent higher.

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