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‘Shelve expectations of a return’ to the past, warns PATA

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has warned members to “shelve expectations of a return to the past” after revising its forecasts for tourism’s recovery across the region

PATA warned of “a hard year ahead” for the industry in its latest forecast, with recovery largely postponed until 2022 and visitor numbers likely to return “in a very uneven fashion”.

The association issued new forecasts for international travel to the 39 destinations and three sub-regions it covers in light of the latest data.

It noted international arrivals to the region in 2020 were slightly higher than previously reported at 126.5 million, down 82% on 2019 but up from an earlier estimate of 122 million.

Asia saw a decline of 86% year on year, the Pacific a decline of 77% and the Americas a 70% fall in numbers.

However, rather than see a partial recovery this year, PATA warned: “These losses are forecast to continue throughout 2021 for most sub-regions under all scenarios.”

The one exception could be Asia, it suggested, where a recovery in the Chinese outbound market and to a lesser extent in Russia Is expected to drive a partial recovery.

PATA also warned that under most scenarios “the absolute volume of arrivals remains well below the 2019 benchmark even out to 2023”.

The associations’ forecasts for the Asia, Americas and Pacific region vary according to three scenarios – of mild, medium and severe pandemic restrictions. It envisages fresh declines in visitor numbers almost everywhere this year compared with 2020, other than in Asia under the mildest scenario.

PATA forecasts visitor numbers this year will reach just 23% of the 2019 volume “at best”.

International arrivals in 2022 are forecast to increase to between 27% and 61% of 2019 levels, depending on the scenario, and to between 51% and 99% by 2023.

Liz Ortiguera, new chief executive of PATA, said: “Expectations for a return to the past should be shelved and more attention paid to source and destination markets best preparing to drive recovery.”

She noted: “Travel recovery is being driven by a complex range of factors from the varying market policies regarding virus control and containment to local citizens’ sentiments on vaccine take-up.”

Ortiguera took over from Mario Hardy as PATA chief executive in mid-May.

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