Global tourism recovery gathering pace despite challenges

Dear Editor,
The Caribbean Region has been described as the most reliant on tourism and travel when compared to other global regions. The Caribbean relies on international visitors more than any other region in the world.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022, with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded. This compares to 77 million arrivals from January to May 2021 and means that the sector has recovered almost half (46%) of pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
The UNWTO says in the Americas, arrivals more than doubled (+112%). However, the strong rebound is measured against weak results in 2021 and arrivals remain overall 36% and 40% below 2019 levels in both regions (Americas and Europe), respectively.
“Looking at subregions, several have recovered between 70% and 80% of their pre-pandemic levels, led by the Caribbean and Central America, followed by Southern Mediterranean, Western and Northern Europe. It is noteworthy that some destinations surpassed 2019 levels, including US Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, the Republic of Moldova, Albania, Honduras, and Puerto Rico,” the UNWTO reports.
Rising tourism spending out of the major source markets is consistent with the observed recovery.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the overall reduction in international air capacity in 2022 will be limited to 20% to 25% of seats offered by airlines as compared to 2019. Such resilience is also reflected in hotel occupancy rates. Based on data from the industry benchmarking firm STR, global occupancy rates climbed to 66% in June 2022, from 43% in January.
The following global challenges are impacting and/or pose a risk to tourism recovery: stronger than expected demand has created significant operational and workforce challenges, while the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, and interest rates, as well as fears of an economic slowdown; developments related to the pandemic and emerging public health emergencies.
UNWTO’s forward-looking scenarios published in May 2022 point to international arrivals reaching 55% to 70% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
The UNWTO adds that scenarios by region show Europe and Americas recording the best tourism results in 2022, while Asia and the Pacific is expected to lag behind due to more restrictive travel policies. International tourist arrivals in Europe could climb to 65% or 80% of 2019 levels in 2022, depending on various conditions, while in the Americas they could reach 63% to 76% of those levels.
Tourism recovery in many regions of the world is on the up, but it will take time while economies and nations manage the challenges that they are currently facing.

Roddy Heyliger

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