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Optimism Slowly Returns to the Tourism Sector


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter


Coming off the worst year in tourism history, 2021 wasn't much of an improvement, as travel remained subdued in the face of the persistent threat posed by Covid-19. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), export revenues from tourism (including passenger transport receipts) remained more than $1 trillion below pre-pandemic levels in 2021, marking the second trillion-dollar loss for the tourism industry in as many years.


While the brief rebound in the summer months of 2020 had fueled hopes of a quick recovery for the tourism sector, those hopes were dashed with each subsequent wave of the pandemic. And despite a record-breaking global vaccine rollout, travel experts struggled to stay optimistic in 2021, as governments kept many restrictions in place in their effort to curb the spread of new, potentially more dangerous variants of the coronavirus.


Halfway through 2022, optimism has returned to the industry, however, as travel demand is ticking up in many regions. According to UNWTO's latest Tourism Barometer, industry experts are now considerably more confident than they were at the beginning of the year, with 48 percent of expert panel participants expecting a full recovery of the tourism sector in 2023, up from just 32 percent in January. 44 percent of surveyed industry insiders still think it'll take until 2024 or longer for tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels, another notable improvement from 64 percent in January.


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