Despite the war in Ukraine and the travel restrictions still in force due to COVID-19, world tourism continues to recover, especially in Europe and America, although without recovering its pre-pandemic level.
Tourists are increasingly going on vacation abroad and their number increased by 130% in January 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, according to the latest figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
This represents 18 million more international travelers worldwide, “that is, the equivalent of the total increase registered in all of 2021”, according to this specialized UN agency based in Madrid.
In 2019, global tourism receipts reached $1.48 trillion, before falling by almost a third a year later due to the pandemic.
Although the beginning of the year confirms the positive trend started in 2021, the omicron variant recently slowed the momentum and international travel in January 2022 was still 67% lower than the period before the pandemic.
The rebound in passengers, compared to the low levels of 2021, affects all regions of the world, but is seen above all in Europe (three times more) and in America (two times more). The Middle East also registered an increase of 89% and Africa of 51%, although they are far from the pre-pandemic figures, according to the UNWTO.
In contrast, in the Asia-Pacific region, where several destinations are closed, the arrival of international tourists in January was 93% lower than in 2019.
The second quarter of 2022 is, however, announced “more promising than the first for international travel in the world”, according to the ForwardKeys cabinet.
For summer vacations in the northern hemisphere, the sun and sea of the Caribbean and Latin America are especially popular.
Ecological tourism in Costa Rica, archaeological tourism in Peru or the traditional carnival in Brazil are in fact adapting their strategies to the new post-pandemic era.
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a jewel of Peruvian tourism, was closed for eight months. It reopened in November 2020, but now operates with reduced capacity, and not only for health reasons.
“For fear of affecting” the archaeological site, the daily number of visitors was reduced, explained the head of the citadel, José Bastante.
Last month, 2,500 visitors a day entered, although what is allowed is 3,000. In 2019 the citadel received 1.5 million visitors, but in 2022 it will hardly exceed one million. In 2021 there were 447,000.
In its “green” tourism proposal, Costa Rica is now betting on the “nomad”, characteristic of working millennials and remote providers of international services.
64.5% of tourists come from the United States, so they also expect category 2 to be restored this year in terms of travel recommendations by the government of that country.
Brazil experienced a week of celebration last month with an atypical carnival out of season, a relief for the tourism sector in cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where the traditional samba schools paraded again after the pandemic stoppage.
The official tourism company, Embratur, will focus the second semester on attracting foreign visitors, with campaigns in Europe and Latin America, and will also try to take advantage of the visibility of the World Cup in Qatar to promote Brazil as an “interesting and safe” destination. .
progression in Europe
In Europe, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Iceland are taking off as destinations, although they are not filled with tourists as they were before COVID-19.
But France is doing well: tourists come back and spend. International tourism receipts in February “closed to those of 2019,” at about 2.7 billion euros ($2.85 billion), according to Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.
This sector in France represented in 2019 before the pandemic 7.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 9.5% of jobs. According to Lemoyne, the country remains “very well positioned” as the “number one travel destination in Europe for Americans, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards.”
However, Didier Arino, director of the specialized cabinet Protourisme, warned that in a context of high inflation, “the actors increase all prices” and “the limit of what is acceptable for a good part of clients is being reached.”
In Spain, “month after month the recovery of tourism continues to consolidate”, recently highlighted the Spanish Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, who stated that the indicators allow us to be “optimistic” for the high season of 2022.
Spain multiplied by eight the number of tourists who visited it in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, thanks to the return, above all, of the British after two years of health crisis, according to official data.
In the month of March alone, the country received four million visitors (491,000 in March 2021). However, it is still very far from the levels prior to the pandemic, since the figure for March represents 71% of that registered in the same month of 2019.