Better coordination of travel protocols between countries can ensure a safe restart of tourism and prevent another year of massive losses for the sector. This is what the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said.
Based in Madrid, the UNWTO confirmed in a statement that the end of 2020 has been difficult and that global tourism continued to record losses and reductions at the start of the year as countries tightened restrictions. of travel in response to new phases of contamination by Covid-19. Moreover, the significant drop in tourist arrivals has spared no country.
This comes down, according to the UNWTO, to the fact that the mandatory tests against Covid-19, the quarantines and, in some cases, the complete closure of the borders have made it difficult to resume travel without forgetting the speed and distribution of the vaccination which were slower than expected.
Faced with this health crisis situation which seems to be taking longer than expected, the UNWTO believes that the international community must take strong and urgent measures to guarantee a year with better results, because many people and companies depend on this sector. for their survival.
To support its remarks, the UNWTO puts forward several figures. As an example, the Asia-Pacific region which continues to have the highest level of travel restrictions and recorded the largest reduction in international arrivals in January (96%.), Europe and Africa recorded an 85% drop in arrivals, while the Middle East saw an 84% reduction. Additionally, international arrivals to the Americas also fell 77% in January, following slightly better results in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, observed that better coordination between countries and the harmonization of travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow it to resume safely before the strongest of the summer season in the northern hemisphere.
LOMT therefore expects a difficult first half in this sector with 32% of all global destinations still completely closed to tourists at the start of February, while international arrivals are expected to fall by around 85% from the first quarter of 2021. compared to the same period in 2019.
This would represent a loss of around 260 million international arrivals compared to the period preceding the pandemic, the same source specifies.
Thus, for this year, the UNWTO has defined two scenarios which envisage, and cross their fingers, a possible resumption of international travel in the second half of the year. These two scenarios are based on a number of factors, such as the suspension of travel restrictions, the success of vaccination programs or the introduction of harmonized protocols, such as the digital green certificate planned by the European Commission.
The first scenario shows a recovery in July, which would translate into a 66% increase in international arrivals for the year 2021 compared to the historic lows of 2020 and in this case, arrivals would still be 55% lower. to levels recorded in 2019, while the latter envisages a potential recovery in September, leading to a 22% increase in arrivals compared to last year. In this case, the results would still be 67% lower than in 2019.