According to a UNWTO report, the destinations of the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico are recovering largely due to the demand of American tourists
The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues into a second year. Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85% below 2019 levels (or a 65% drop in 2020), UNWTO data shows.
Despite a small rebound in May, the emergence of COVID-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery in international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world.
The latest UNWTO data shows that during the first five months of the year, global destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals (overnight visitors) compared to the same period in 2020, or 460 million fewer than the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Data points to a relatively small rebound in May, with arrivals declining 82% (compared to May 2019), after falling 86% in April. This slight upward trend arose when some destinations began to ease restrictions and consumer confidence increased slightly.
Accelerating the pace of vaccination around the world, working on effective coordination and communication on ever-changing travel restrictions, and at the same time advancing digital tools to facilitate mobility will be critical to rebuilding confidence in travel. and restart tourism.
Rebuilding confidence to revive tourism
“Accelerating the pace of vaccination around the world, working on effective coordination and communication on ever-changing travel restrictions, and at the same time advancing digital tools to facilitate mobility will be essential to restore confidence in travel and restart tourism, ”says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
By region, Asia and the Pacific continued to experience the largest decline with a 95% drop in international arrivals in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Europe (-85%) recorded the second largest decline in arrivals, followed by the Middle East (-83%) and Africa (-81%). The Americas (-72%) experienced a comparatively less decline. In June, the number of destinations with total border closures decreased to 63, from 69 in February. Of these, 33 were in Asia and the Pacific, while only seven were in Europe, the region with the fewest travel restrictions currently in place.
By subregion, the Caribbean (-60%) registered the best relative performance until May 2021. The growth of travel from the United States has benefited destinations in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as Mexico. Western Europe, Southern and Mediterranean Europe, South America and Central America performed slightly better in May than in April.
Mixed outlook for the remainder of 2021
International tourism is slowly recovering, although the recovery remains very fragile and uneven. Growing concern about the Delta variant of the virus has prompted several countries to reimpose restrictive measures. Additionally, volatility and a lack of clear information on entry requirements could continue to affect the resumption of international travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer season. However, vaccination programs around the world, along with softer restrictions for vaccinated travelers and the use of digital tools such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, are contributing to the gradual normalization of travel.
Additionally, domestic travel is driving recovery in many destinations, especially those with large domestic markets. Domestic air seat capacity in China and Russia has already surpassed pre-crisis levels, while domestic travel in the United States is strengthening even further.