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International tourism revenues ‘less than half $1.7tn pre-pandemic level’

Travel recovery remains “slow and uneven” across the world due to varying degrees of restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence.

Revenues from international tourism could reach $700-$800 billion this year, a small improvement from 2020 but less than half the $1.7 trillion recorded in 2019, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation.

In a report covering the peak summer months of July to September, the UNWTO said: “Despite recent improvements, uneven vaccination rates around the world and new Covid-19 strains could impact the already slow and fragile recovery.

“The economic strain caused by the pandemic could also weigh on travel demand, aggravated by the recent spike in oil prices and disruption of supply chains.

“According to the latest UNWTO data, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70% to 75% below 2019 levels in 2021, a similar decline as in 2020.

“The safe resumption of international tourism will continue to depend largely on a co-ordinated response among countries in terms of travel restrictions, harmonised safety and hygiene protocols and effective communication to help restore consumer confidence.

“This is particularly critical at a moment when cases are surging in some regions and new Covid-19 variants are emerging in different parts of the world.”

International overnight visitors increased by 58% in July-September 2021 compared to the same period of 2020. However, they remained 64% below 2019 levels.

Europe recorded the best relative performance in the quarter, with international arrivals 53% down on the same three-month period of 2019.

UNWTO eecretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Data for the third quarter of 2021 is encouraging.

“However, arrivals are still 76% below pre-pandemic levels and results across the different global regions remain uneven.”

In light of the rising cases and the emergence of new variants, he added that “we cannot let our guard down and need to continue our efforts to ensure equal access to vaccinations, co-ordinate travel procedures, make use of digital vaccination certificates to facilitate mobility and continue to support the sector.”

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