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World tourism won’t bounce back to pre-Covid levels until 2024, says UN report

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The tourism industry professionals are not expecting a full recovery before 2024, according to the World Tourism Organization

The world tourism industry improved only a wee bit last year compared to 2020, with all indicators staying way below pre-pandemic levels and industry professionals not expecting a full recovery before 2024, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Tuesday.

The tourism industry suffered a huge blow in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, which made people around the world limit their activity and lose their livelihoods.

"The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence," the report said.

The world tourism industry is not expected to return to its pre-pandemic levels until 2024, the World Tourism Organization said Tuesday.

Rising vaccination rates and the easing of travel restrictions did allow a small rebound in the second half of 2021, the Madrid-based UN agency said in a report, but the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant in December triggered another dip in both travel bookings.

The highly contagious Omicron variant, though mild, will "disrupt the recovery" in early 2022 although there was a 4% growth last year over a dismal 2020, UNWTO states.

Tourism revenue plunged 72 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

"The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 is estimated at $1.9 trillion, above the $1.6 trillion in 2020, but still far below the pre-pandemic value of $3.5 trillion," the statement noted.

"The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence," the UNWTO said report said.

In Europe and the Americas, foreign visitor arrivals went up by 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, last year over 2020.

In the Middle East, however, arrivals fell by 24 per cent in 2021, while in the Asia-Pacific region they were 65 per cent below 2020 levels, and 94 per cent less than pre-pandemic levels.

The UN agency forecasts a 30 to 78 per cent rise in international arrivals this year over 2021, while remaining far below 2019 levels.

Most experts say they do not foresee a return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, it said.

Also read: India’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases dips to 2.58 lakh but positivity rate goes up to 19.7%