Intelligence APAC’s tourism recovery continues to lag behind other regions By TTG Asia / Posted on 4 October, 2021 15:57 International tourism enjoyed signs of rebound in June and July 2021 as some destinations eased travel restrictions and the global vaccination rollout advanced in many parts of the world. According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, an estimated 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July 2021, down 67 per cent from the same month in 2019, but the strongest results since April 2020. The Asia-Pacific region recorded a 95 per cent drop in international arrivals in the period January-July compared to 2019, people wearing face shields and masks walking on the Jubilee Bridge in Singapore pictured This compares to an estimated 34 million international arrivals recorded in July 2020, though well below the 164 million figure recorded in 2019. Most destinations reporting data for June and July 2021 saw a moderate rebound in international arrivals compared to 2020. Nevertheless, 2021 continues to be a challenging year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80 per cent in January-July compared to 2019. Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the weakest results in the period January to July, with a 95 per cent drop in international arrivals compared to 2019. The Middle East (-82 per cent) recorded the second largest decline, followed by Europe and Africa (both -77 per cent). The Americas (-68 per cent) saw a comparatively smaller decrease, with the Caribbean showing the best performance among world subregions. Meanwhile, some small islands in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, together with a few small European destinations recorded the best performance in June and July, with arrivals close to, or sometimes exceeding pre-pandemic levels. This improvement was underpinned by the reopening of many destinations to international travel, mostly in Europe and the Americas. The relaxation of travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers, coupled with progress made in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, contributed to lifting consumer confidence and gradually restoring safe mobility in Europe and other parts of the world. In contrast, most destinations in Asia remain closed to non-essential travel. UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There is clearly a strong demand for international tourism, and many destinations have started welcoming visitors back safely and responsibly. However, the true restart of tourism and the benefits it brings remain on hold as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel.” Prospects for September-December 2021 remain mixed, according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey, with 53 per cent of respondents believing the period will be worse than expected. Only 31 per cent of experts expect better results towards the end of the year. The survey also showed that most tourism professionals continue to expect a rebound driven by unleashed pent-up demand for international travel in 2022, mostly during the second and third quarters. Almost half of all experts (45 per cent) continue to see international tourism returning to 2019 levels in 2024 or later, while 43 per cent point to a recovery in 2023. By regions, the largest share of experts pointing to a return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later are in Asia and the Pacific (58 per cent). In Europe, half of respondents indicate this could happen in 2023. The Middle East is the most optimistic, with a full recovery expected by 2022.