The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues into a second year and international travel remains on hold todate, according to the latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The emergence of COVID-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery of international travel.
Over the first five months of the year, world destinations recorded 147 million fewer international arrivals (overnight visitors) compared to the same period of 2020, or 460 million less than pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to the UNWTO.
By regions, Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the largest decline with a 95% drop in international arrivals in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
Europe (-85%) recorded the second largest decline in arrivals, followed by the Middle East (-83%) and Africa (-81%).
The Americas (-72%) saw a comparatively smaller decrease. In June, the number of destinations with complete closure of borders decreased to 63, from 69 in February.
Of these, 33 were in Asia and the Pacific, while just seven in Europe, the region with the fewest restrictions on travel currently in place.
“Accelerating the pace of vaccination worldwide, working on effective coordination and communication on ever changing travel restrictions while advancing digital tools to facilitate mobility will be critical to rebuild trust in travel and restart tourism” says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The outlook for remainder of 2021 is mixed.
Rising concerns over the Delta variant of the virus led several countries to reimpose restrictive measures.
In addition, the volatility and lack of clear information on entry requirements could continue to weigh on the resumption of international travel during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer season.
However, vaccination programmes around the world, together with softer restrictions for vaccinated travellers and the use of digital tools such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, are all contributing to the gradual normalization of travel.
In addition, domestic travel is driving the recovery in many destinations, especially those with large domestic markets.
Domestic air seat capacity in China and Russia has already exceeded pre-crisis levels, while domestic travel in the United States is strengthening further.

Source: Manila Bulletin (