- COVID-19 has had a particularly negative influence on the tourism industry.
- In the second year of the pandemic, international arrivals climbed by just 4%, with 1 billion fewer arrivals than in the year before the pandemic.
- The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that the sector will not fully recover until 2024, according to 63 percent of experts.
While few businesses have escaped the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry has been particularly severely struck. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that international tourist arrivals climbed by only 4% last year, remaining 72 percent below 2019 levels as 2021 came to a close with stringent travel restrictions still in place. In comparison to pre-pandemic levels, this translates to more than 1 billion fewer overseas arrivals, maintaining the industry at levels last seen in the late 1980s.
Prior to the introduction of the coronavirus, the worldwide tourism industry had been growing steadily for decades. The number of international arrivals has increased dramatically since 1980, from 277 million to approximately 1.5 billion in 2019. The SARS epidemic of 2003 and the global financial crisis of 2009, as seen in our graph, were small blips on the radar compared to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most experts believe that a full recovery will not occur until 2024 or later. While the UNWTO Panel of Experts expects an increase in travel activity this year, only 4% of those polled foresee a complete recovery by 2022. International arrivals are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, according to around a third of respondents, while 63 percent say it will take even longer. According to UNWTO projections, foreign visitor visits could increase by 30 to 78 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. While this appears to be a huge improvement, it would still be more than half of what it was before the pandemic.