GOLF ALERT: Global Tourism Continues To Be Hammered!

With the first quarter of 2021 over, the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to take its toll on global tourism.

New data just released in the last 24-hours by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows an 87% fall in international tourist arrivals in January as compared to 2020.

The agency feels that the outlook for the rest of the year remains cautious as it continues to call for stronger coordination on travel protocols between countries to ensure the safe restart of tourism and avoid another year of massive losses for the sector.

Following a difficult end to 2020, global tourism suffered further setbacks in the beginning of the year as countries tightened travel restrictions in response to new virus outbreaks. According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, all world regions continued to experience large drops in tourist arrivals in the first month of the year. Mandatory testing, quarantines, and in some cases the complete closure of borders, have all hindered the resumption of international travel. In addition, the speed and distribution of the vaccination roll-out have been slower than expected, further delaying the restart of tourism.

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 79% in January, following somewhat better results in the last quarter of the year.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it. Improved coordination between countries and harmonized travel and health protocols are essential to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the northern hemisphere.”

With 32% of all global destinations completely closed to international tourists at the beginning of February, UNWTO anticipates a challenging first few months of 2021 for global tourism. Based on current trends, 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.