International tourism loses $2.4tn in 2021

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International tourism arrivals will stay in a spiral of stagnation in 2021 with expected losses edging up to $2.4 trillion, Reuters reported quoting a study of the United Nations. The main reason for that is that with the exception of few western countries, the world is still suffering the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The slow vaccination roll-out makes it unlikely to expect a full rebound in tourism industry before 2023.

Covid-19 cerificates and travel passes are seen as a major tool to speed the recovery of the sector. In 2020, international arrivals slumped by 73% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, causing estimated losses of more than $2 trillion in tourism and related sectors, according to the report by UNCTAD and the UN's World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). "The outlook for this year doesn't look much better," Ralf Peters of UNCTAD's trade analysis branch, told a news conference. "The first three months were again bad, there was not much travelling happening," he said. "There is an expectation of a certain recovery in the second half of the year, at least for North America and Europe to a certain extent," he said. The report sets out three scenarios for 2021, showing international tourism arrivals forecast to drop by between 63% and 75% from pre-pandemic levels, resulting in losses of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion.

"In international tourism we are at levels of 30 years ago, so basically we are in the '80s. Many livelihoods are really at threat," said Zoritsa Urosevic, Geneva representative of the Madrid-based UNWTO. "What we are looking at in the long run is meeting the 2019 numbers after 2023," she said.

The European Union's digital Covid-19 certificate, due to come into force on 1 July, represents the only regional harmonisation to date, she said.

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