UNWTO: recovery could take 2+ years

The latest tourism data from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), shows destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October when compared with the same period of 2019. UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by 70% to 75% for the whole of 2020. It suggests recovery could take two or more years.

International arrivals fell by 72% over the first ten months of 2020, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus, all contributing to the worst year on record in the history of tourism.

Asia and the Pacific, the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions, saw an 82% decrease in arrivals in the first ten months of 2020. The Middle East recorded a 73% decline, while Africa saw a 69% drop. International arrivals in both Europe and the Americas declined by 68%.

UNWTO has stated it seeks a coordinated approach to easing and lifting restrictions on travel whenever is it safe to do so. It says this will not only open destinations up to tourism again, but will also establish clear and consistent rules between countries which will go a long way towards building back trust in international travel and boosting consumer confidence.

Demand remains weak overall despite a slight improvement in some markets.

Looking ahead, UNWTO says that the announcement of various vaccines and the start of vaccination are expected to gradually increase consumer confidence. A growing number of destinations are easing or lifting restrictions on travel.

A return to 2019 levels in terms of international arrivals could take between two-and-a-half and four years.