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UWTO Wants More Collaboration Between Countries for a Safe Restart of International Tourism


The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) continues to require stronger coordination between countries on travel customs in order to assure safe restart of tourism and prevent another year of tremendous losses in the industry.

The request follows a previous call of the UNWTO for a balanced and eco-friendly restart of tourism at the ITB Berlin Now earlier in March, concerning the hardships that the sector is going through.

The disastrous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on global tourism is still prevailing in 2021, with the new UNWTO’s statistics showing an 87 per cent decrease in international tourist arrivals this January in comparison to the same time last year.

The tourism sector suffered even more due to the stringent travel restrictions most countries imposed to contain the further spread of the COVID-19.

According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer’s latest publication, regions all over the world experienced large-scale drops in tourist arrivals during the first month of the year. Obligatory testing, self-isolation, and occasional total border shutdowns have hugely affected international travel recovery. Additionally, the vaccine rollout procedure has not been as fast as anticipated, causing further tourism restart delays.

In a press release, UNWTO pointed out that Asia and the Pacific recorded the largest decrease of 96 per cent in international arrivals during January due to the travel restrictions currently effective in these regions.

Similarly, Europe and Africa experienced a drop of 85 per cent in arrivals, whereas the Middle East recorded a decline of 84 per cent. Likewise, in North and South America the international arrivals dropped by 77 per cent.

“2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. Improved coordination between countries and harmonized travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, commenting on the travel and tourism sector’s current situation.

UNWTO foresees a challenging first few months of 2021 regarding international tourism since 32 per cent of international destinations were completely shut down at the beginning of February, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Given the current patterns observed, UNWTO anticipates international arrivals to decrease by around 85 per cent in the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, representing a loss of approximately 260 million international arrivals compared to the pre-pandemic period.

UNWTO explained that two scenarios regarding the recovery of international travel in the second half of 2021 have already been outlined. The scenarios are based on several components, particularly on the lifting of travel restrictions, successful vaccination schemes, as well as a common Digital Green Certificate established by the European Commission.

The first scenario refers to a rebound in July, which would stimulate an increase of 66 per cent in international arrivals in 2021 compared to the all-time low of 2020. However, the arrivals would still be 55 per cent below the amount recorded in 2019.

The second scenario estimated a possible rebound in September, resulting in an increase of 22 per cent in international arrivals compared to the last year.

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