DESTINATIONS TOURISM ARRIVALS, globally, dropped by 83 per cent, in the first quarter of 2021.  There are, however, prospects that tourist destinations numbers will rise slowly, as there are indications that the present Covid-19 travel restrictions would gradually be eased in the coming months.

Between January and March 2021, 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%] drop in international arrivals over the three-month period.

Europe recorded the second largest decline with [-83%], followed by Africa [-81%], the Middle East [-78%] and the Americas [-71%]. This all follows on from the 73% fall in worldwide international tourist arrivals recorded in 2020, making it the worst year on record for the sector. 

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, said: “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”.

UNWTO PANEL OF TOURISM EXPERTS latest survey, shows that the prospects for May-August, will improve slightly. Along with this, is the increasing pace of vaccination rollout in some key source markets, as well as policies to restart tourism safely; and most notable is the EU Digital Green Certificate, which has boosted hopes for a rebound in some of these markets.


The overall assessment of tourism recovery is that [60%] expect a rebound in international tourism only in 2022, up from 50% in the January 2021 survey. The remaining [40%] see a potential rebound in 2021. This is, however, down slightly from the percentage in January.

Nearly half of the experts do not see a return to 2019 international tourism levels before 2024, or later. The percentage of respondents who indicated that tourism would return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, decreased by (37%), when compared to the January survey.

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, also shows the impact of the pandemic on economies. International tourism receipts in 2020 declined by [64%] in real terms [local currencies, constant prices], equivalent to a drop of over US$ 900 billion, cutting the overall worldwide exports value by over [4%] in 2020.

The total loss in export revenues from international tourism [including passenger transport] amounts to nearly US$ 1.1 trillion. Asia and the Pacific [-70% in real terms], and the Middle East [-69%] saw the largest drops in receipts.