World travel returns to calendar after coronavirus

Sub Levels

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 03:30 | to

Tourists line up at international airports earlier this year. PD/file

Ever since Covid-19 disrupted international travel and turned the world on its back, the number of farewells and welcomes witnessed at international airports is like tears in anxious eyes. overflowing.

International tourism is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels, with more than 960 million tourists traveling across borders last year alone, according to data from the World Travel Organization (UNWTO). About 235 million of them traveled in the first three months, more than double the number in 2022.

Overall, international arrivals reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2022. As a result, international tourism receipts have grown to the level of $1 trillion in 2022, a 50% increase in real terms compared to 2021.

arrival of tourists

Kenya’s total international tourist arrivals increased by 70.45 per cent to 1.48 million in 2022 from 870,465 in 2021, according to the 2022 Tourism Sector Annual Performance Report.

Profits increased 83% to 268.09 billion shillings ($2.1 billion) from 146.51 billion shillings ($1.15 billion) in the same period in 2021.

“The beginning of the year once again demonstrated the unique resilience of tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. In many locations, arrivals are close to or above pre-pandemic levels. ”

“However, we must remain alert to a range of challenges, including geopolitical instability, staffing shortages and the potential impact of the cost of living crisis on tourism, and the return of tourism to the climate emergency. We must ensure that we fulfill our responsibilities as a solution to the problem.” As a driving force for comprehensive development. ”

In a statement, he said his rapid recovery was thanks to the World Health Organization’s lifting of travel restrictions in the post-COVID-19 period. Travel restrictions peaked in May 2020, with 75% of destinations worldwide closing their borders completely, bringing international tourism to a near halt.

A better understanding of the virus will enable a more risk-based approach, allowing destinations to replace complete border closures with softer measures such as mandatory testing and vaccination of tourists. rice field.

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “The safe easing or lifting of travel restrictions is essential for the resumption of tourism and the restoration of the social and economic benefits provided by the tourism sector.”

At the peak of the pandemic, he was against sweeping travel restrictions.

“In effect, these restrictions cut off a tourism lifeline, doing more harm than good, especially in destinations that depend on foreign tourists for jobs, economic well-being and sustainable change. It’s big,” SG said.

Tourism is one of the most affected sectors worldwide.

Through its slogan, UNWTO emphasized the need to “put people and their welfare first” during the epidemic. “If I stay home today, I can travel tomorrow.” WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Since then, the Covid-19 virus has spread to over 200 countries around the world.

A study of the impact of COVID-19 on tourism in Kenya, conducted in June 2020 by the National Steering Committee under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism, provided behind-the-scenes insights into the crisis the tourism industry is experiencing.

Hotels: The pandemic hit Kenya during a low tourist season, but the hotel sector experienced an unprecedented and abrupt decline in hotel demand, forcing most hotels to close. As a result, some hotels are putting some staff on paid or unpaid leave.

If the crisis escalates, passenger numbers could drop by 1.6 million and $320 million in lost revenue.

Of the total of 2,048,834 foreign arrivals in Kenya in 2019, MICE accounted for 13.5%, with at least 276,592 attending meetings and business. This subsector remains key to Kenya’s tourism revenue, rising 3.9% to 163.56 billion lice in 2019, but is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

pre-pandemic levels

By region, Europe performed best in 2022, with tourism receipts reaching nearly US$550 billion (€520 billion), 87% of pre-pandemic levels. Africa recovered 75% of pre-pandemic incomes, the Middle East 70% and the Americas 68%. Destinations in Asia saw about 28% more revenue due to prolonged border closures.

The Middle East performed best as the only region to surpass 2019 arrivals (up 15%) and was the first region to return to pre-pandemic arrivals for an entire quarter.

Europe reached 90% of its pre-pandemic level, driven by strong domestic demand.

Africa reached 88% of its 2019 level, and the Americas around 85%. Asia-Pacific has accelerated its recovery to its pre-pandemic level of 54%, but this upward trend will accelerate even further now that most destinations, especially China, have resumed operations.

Many locations are approaching or exceeding pre-pandemic arrival numbers.

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