Global tourism surged in July, thanks to the rollout of vaccination and fewer travel restrictions, but the number of travelers is still far from pre-pandemic levels, the UN tourism body said on Monday. .
Some 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July, the highest figure since April 2020, in the early months of the coronavirus crisis, the World Tourism Organization said in a statement.
This represents an increase of 58% from the level recorded in July 2020, but remains a decrease of 67% from the 164 million recorded in July 2019.
“This improvement has been supported by the reopening of many destinations to international travel, mainly in Europe and the Americas, coupled with the progress made in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines” which have helped “gradually restore safe mobility in Europe and in other parts of the world, ”he said.
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“Nonetheless, 2021 continues to be a difficult year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80% in January-July compared to 2019,” the Madrid-based organization said.
In the first seven months of the year, Asia and the Pacific continued to record the largest declines, with a 95% drop in international arrivals, followed by the Middle East where the numbers fell by 82%. %, from Europe and Africa, which recorded a drop of 77 percent, and the Americas, which suffered a decline of 68 percent.
Only a few small islands in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as several small European destinations have recovered and have seen arrivals close to, if not above, pre-pandemic levels.
Spain, which before the pandemic was the second most popular tourist destination in the world, said on Monday it welcomed 15 million tourists in the first eight months of the year, down 4.2% from the same period last year, said the National Institute of Statistics.
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The data cast doubt on the Spanish government’s target of attracting some 45 million foreign visitors this year, about half of the number in 2019.
“The real upturn in tourism and the benefits it brings remains unresolved as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel,” said UNWTO chief Zurab Pololikashvili, in the press release.
The United Nations body has said it expects a “rebound” in 2022, although global tourism is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or 2024.