The aftermath of the operation in Ukraine has jeopardized the international travel sector, which has just begun to recover from the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This assessment was expressed by analysts of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in their new statement. Now the future of tourism is seen by experts as very vague: the situation in Ukraine “under the sauce” of anti-virus rules and restrictions will not be to the taste of world tourism.
The travel sector began a strong recovery in January 2022, but high-profile geopolitical events have significantly narrowed the scope for full-blown growth. Thus, the latest data provided by the UNWTO showed that the number of foreign tourists around the world in January of this year increased by 130 percent compared to the same period last year. This means that during the first month of 2022 alone, 18 million more travelers were registered in the global market.
Despite the fact that the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide has increased significantly compared to the past year, these figures are still 67 percent below pre-pandemic levels. The reason for this is the existing restrictive entry measures, which many countries of the world have not yet removed, fearing new waves of coronavirus.
“While these numbers confirm the positive trend already emerging last year, the pace of recovery in January was affected by the emergence of the omicron strain and the reintroduction of travel restrictions to several destinations. After a 71 percent decline in 2021, foreign arrivals in January 2022 remained 67 percent below pre-pandemic levels,” the organization said in a statement.
On a global basis, Europe (+199 percent) and the Americas (+97 percent) were found to continue to post the strongest travel recovery. The Middle East (+89 percent) and Africa (+51 percent) also saw growth in January 2022 compared to January 2021.
By subregion, the best results were achieved in Western Europe. Four times more tourists arrived in Western Europe in January 2022 than in 2021, but still 58 percent less than in pre-Covid 2019. In addition, several islands in the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and some European and Central American destinations outperformed the “exemplary” 2019.
In addition, the UNWTO also discussed recovery prospects. According to the organization, the events in Ukraine have challenged the global economic environment and also prevented the return of confidence in travel around the world.
“The situation in Ukraine poses new challenges for the global economic environment and risks derailing the restoration of confidence in travel around the world. The US and Asian markets that have begun to reopen could be particularly affected, especially for travel to Europe, as these markets are historically more risk averse,” the statement also noted.
Although it is too early to assess the impact of events in Ukraine on global international tourism, bookings and searches for air tickets through several channels showed a slowdown at the end of February. However, as far as other European countries are concerned, the situation remains safe, so the number of bookings shows a slow but steady growth. Of course, if world events take an even sharper turn and cover wider territories, then global tourism will again stagnate.
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