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UNWTO World Tourism Barometer

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer monitors short-term tourism trends on a regular basis to provide global tourism stakeholders with up-to-date analysis on international tourism.

The report is published four times a year and includes an analysis of the latest data on tourism destinations (inbound tourism) and source markets (outbound tourism). The Barometer also includes a Confidence Index based on the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts survey, which provides an evaluation of recent performance and short-term prospects on international tourism.

UNWTO Member States, Associate Members and Affiliate Members receive the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer as a part of member's service.

International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) plunged by 87% in January 2021, amid new outbreaks and tighter travel restrictions

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, Update March 2021

International tourism further weakens in January 2021 with a drop of 87% 

  • After the unprecedented 73% drop in international tourism recorded in 2020 under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for international travel remains very weak at the beginning of 2021.  
  • International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) plunged by 87% in January 2021, amid new outbreaks and tighter travel restrictions.  This follows a decline of 85% in the last quarter of 2020. 
  • By regions, Asia and the Pacific (-96%), the region which continues to have the highest level of travel restrictions in place, recorded the largest decrease in international arrivals in January. Europe and Africa both saw a decline of 85% in arrivals, while the Middle East recorded a drop of 84%. International arrivals in the Americas decreased by 77% in January, following somewhat better results in the last quarter of the year. 
  • Due to the worsening of the pandemic with a surge of cases and the emergence of new variants, many countries reintroduced stricter travel restrictions, including mandatory testing, quarantines and in some cases a complete closure of borders, on top of local lockdowns, all weighing on the resumption of international travel. In addition, the speed and distribution of the vaccination roll-out have been slower than expected and quite uneven across countries and regions.  
  • With 32% of destinations worldwide showing complete border closures in early February and another 34% with partial closure, UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to be down about 85% in the first quarter of 2021 over the same period of 2019. This would represent a loss of some 260 million international arrivals when compared to pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Looking ahead, UNWTO has outlined two scenarios for 2021.The first scenario points to a rebound in July, which would result in a 66% increase in international arrivals for the year 2021 compared to the historic lows of 2020. In this case, arrivals would still be 55% below the levels recorded in 2019. The second scenario considers a potential rebound in September, leading to a 22% increase in arrivals compared to last year. Still, this would be 67% below the levels of 2019. 
  • The scenarios consider a number of factors such as a gradual improvement of the epidemiological situation, a continued roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, a significant improvement in traveller confidence and a major lifting of travel restrictions, in particular in Europe and the Americas. 

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