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Tourism arrivals limp through first quarter

Tourism arrivals limp through first quarter

International tourist arrivals were down 83 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 as widespread travel restrictions remained in place.

However, the UNWTO Confidence Index shows signs of a slow uptick in optimism.

Between January and March destinations around the world welcomed 180 million fewer international arrivals compared to the first quarter of last year.

Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the lowest levels of activity with a 94 per cent drop in international arrivals over the three-month period.

Europe recorded the second largest decline, down 83 per cent, followed by Africa (down 81 per cent), the Middle East (down 78 per cent) and the Americas (down 71 per cent).


This all follows on from the 73 per cent fall in worldwide international tourist arrivals recorded in 2020, making it the worst year on record for the sector.

UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, commented: “There is significant pent-up demand, and we see confidence slowly returning.

“Vaccinations will be key for recovery, but we must improve 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 of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows prospects for the May-August period improving slightly.

Alongside this, the pace of the vaccination rollout in some key source markets as well as policies to restart tourism safely, most notably the EU Digital Green Certificate, have boosted hopes for a rebound in some of these markets.

Overall, 60 per cent expect a rebound in international tourism only in 2022, up from 50 per cent in the January survey.

The remaining 40 per cent see a potential rebound in 2021, though this is down slightly from the percentage in January.