Experts say that the speed of implementation of vaccination programs as well as the popularity of Green Pass or EU Digital Green Certificate have contributed to boosting tourism in the region.
According to the latest travel statistics from the UNWTO, Covid-19 has placed serious consequences to the global tourism industry with the number of international tourist arrivals in Q1 2021 decreasing by 73% compared to the same period last year.
From January to March 2021, the total international tourist arrivals to global destinations decreased by 180 million compared to the first quarter of 2020. Asia-Pacific having the lowest level of tourism activity (as the number of international arrivals drops by 94%) while Europe recorded the second biggest drop (-83%), followed by Africa (-81%), the Middle East (-78%) and the Americas (-71%).
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili acknowledged that vaccinations would play a key role to tourism recovery; however, making testing more accessible and affordable still be the top priority at the moment.
“We must increase coordination and communication while making testing easier and more affordable if we want to see a rebound for the summer season in the northern hemisphere.”
The latest survey by the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows that tourism and travel in the period from May to August is likely to improve more. In addition, the speed of vaccination rollout in some important source markets and policies to safely restart tourism, especially the EU Digital Green Certificate, has boosted hopes for a rebound in some of these markets.
Overall, 60% of the experts in the survey expect international tourism to recover by 2022 – up 10% from 50% in the January survey, with 40% predicting a rebound right this year. Nearly half of experts think that international tourism is unlikely to return to the 2019-level by 2024, and only 37% of experts think tourism will make a comeback by 2023.
Besides highlighting the importance of vaccines, travel experts also point out that if countries and destinations continue to impose travel restrictions, and fail to coordinate between health protocols and travel, the main obstacle to the sector’s rebound will be remained.