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Tourism grows but below pre-pandemic levels

by TINTSWALO BALOYI 
JOHANNESBURG – AFRICA recorded a 12 percent increase in arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020 as global tourism experienced a 4-percent growth during the period.

However, figures for Africa are still 74 percent below 2019.

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72 percent below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary estimates by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer statistics follow on from 2020, the worst year on record for tourism, when international arrivals decreased by 73 percent.

The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveler confidence.

Europe and the Americas recorded the strongest results in 2021 compared to 2020 (19 percent and 17 percent respectively), but still both 63 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

The Caribbean saw the best performance (63 percent but 37 percent below 2019).

Southern Mediterranean Europe (57 percent) and Central America (54 percent) also enjoyed a significant rebound but remain 54 percent and 56 percent down on 2019 levels respectively.

North America (17 percent) and Central Eastern Europe (18 percent) also climbed above 2020 levels.

According to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts, most tourism professionals (61 percent) see better prospects for 2022.

Nonetheless, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant are set to disrupt the recovery and affect confidence through early 2022 as some countries reintroduce travel bans and restrictions for certain markets.

While international tourism bounces back, domestic tourism continues to drive recovery of the sector.

According to experts, domestic tourism and travel close to home, as well as open-air activities, nature-based products and rural tourism are among the major travel trends for 2022.

– CAJ News

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