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Arrivals down 87% in January, as UNWTO seeks stronger coordination to restart tourism

With the effect of COVID-19 pandemic still on the high, tourism remains endanger as international tourist arrivals for the first month of the year dipped by 87%, thus continuing the abysmal record of last year. This is even as the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is calling for better coordination among nations and stakeholders to restart tourism amidst lingering fears. However, the new data by UNWTO shows that: ‘‘The outlook for the rest of the year remain cautious as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) continues to call for stronger coordination on travel protocols between countries to ensure the safe restart of tourism and avoid another year of massive losses for the sector.’’ According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, all world regions continued to experience large drops in tourist arrivals in the first month of the year.

Mandatory testing, quarantines, and in some cases the complete closure of borders, have all hindered the resumption of international travel. In addition, the speed and distribution of the vaccination rollout have been slower than expected, further delaying the restart of tourism. This development has shown that the international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it.

The data shows that Asia and the Pacific with -96% recorded the largest decrease in international arrivals in January. Europe and Africa both saw a decline of 85% in arrivals, while the Middle East recorded a drop of 84%. International arrivals in the Americas decreased by 77% in January, following somewhat better results in the last quarter of the year. UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili, described 2020 as the worse year in the recent history of global tourism: “2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021.

‘‘Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it. Improved coordination between countries and harmonised 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.” With 32% of all global destinations completely closed to international tourists at the beginning of February, UNWTO anticipates a challenging first few months of 2021 for global tourism, as its expects international tourist arrivals to be down about 85% in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period of 2019.

 

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