Global tourism has come back to life despite travel headaches due to the Covid virus and the effects of the war in Ukraine, but it has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic health.
Tourist arrivals from around the world more than doubled, up 130% in January 2022 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Travelers regain confidence, and Europe and the Americas lead the recovery. The World Tourism Organization said there were an additional 18 million visitors worldwide, “equivalent to the total increase recorded during the whole of 2021”.
In 2019, global tourism revenue reached $1.48 trillion. That number fell by about two-thirds due to the pandemic the following year.
While January underscores the trend of recovery that began in 2021, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) highlighted how the Omicron Covid variant recently put the brakes on the rise. International arrivals in January 2022 were still 67 percent lower than they were before the pandemic.
Most regions saw travelers rebound from low levels in early 2021, with Europe doing three times better and the Americas twice as well. That’s still far from previous pandemic numbers, but Larry Kokolik, general manager of Best Western Hotels, is optimistic.
“I traveled earlier this week and I can tell you that the airports and international terminals in the United States are very crowded and there is a demand or interest in traveling to Europe, because for several years we have not been able to do that,” he told AFP.
“We miss going to Paris, Rome and Berlin.”
The Middle East is also booming, with arrivals up 89 percent in 2021, as well as Africa, where numbers are up 51 percent — but these two regions are still a long way from their 2019 totals, according to the World Tourism Organization.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the number of travelers is declining in the Asia Pacific region, with many destinations still closed. In January, international tourist arrivals were down 93 percent from pre-pandemic levels. The travel of Chinese tourists, the world’s biggest spender before the epidemic, has also been severely affected by China’s non-proliferation policy.
According to travel analyst ForwardKeys, the second quarter of 2022 remains “more promising for international travel in the world than the first.”
The Caribbean and South America attract tourists looking for sea and sunshine in the northern hemisphere summer. Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Jamaica are among the 20 most popular destinations, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
In Europe, tourists are flocking to France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Iceland, but not in the same numbers as before Covid.
– French exception –
However, France is doing well enough. In February, the country’s international tourism revenue approached that of 2019, according to French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoine.
At 2.7 billion euros ($2.8 billion), revenue was up 1.5 billion compared to last year, and down eight percent compared to 2019. In 2019, before the pandemic, France’s tourism sector accounted for 7.4% of GDP and 9.5% of GDP, he told reporters. jobs.
According to Mr. Lemoine, France is “in a very good position” as “the number one travel destination in Europe for Americans, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards”. The French, for their part, is a “European exception,” the minister said, noting that 60 percent plan to stay in their country during the holidays.
“With a local base that will remain very strong and international clients returning, it means we are in a summer season that can be very dynamic,” he said.
But Didier Arino, director of the consultancy Protourisme, warned that there could be problems ahead.
“The market will not be a problem, it is the cost of producing tourist accommodations, competitiveness and suitability between product prices and purchasing power,” he said.
“All the players are raising their prices, and now things are going well because people want to enjoy themselves. But we have reached the limit of what is acceptable to a lot of customers.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)