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Tourism Experts Fear Long Road to Recovery


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), international tourist arrivals ticked up 4 percent in 2021, but remained 72 percent below pre-pandemic levels. Following an estimated $1.3 trillion loss in export revenue in 2020, travel restrictions remained widespread in 2021, as governments were trying to curb the spread of new, potentially more dangerous variants of the novel coronavirus.


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 have lost some of their optimism in 2021, with the vast majority no longer expecting a return to pre-pandemic levels before 2024.


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