International tourism rebounds in Q3, says UNWTO

International tourism rebounds in Q3, says UNWTO

MADRID — Finally, some good news for the global tourism community: international tourism has rebounded in Q3 following a west first half of 2021.

According to the newest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism barometer, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 58% in July-September compared to the same period of 2020, however they did remain 64% below 2019 levels.

Europe in particular did well, recording the best relative performance in Q3, with international arrivals 53% down on the same three-month period of 2019. In August and September, arrivals were at -63% compared to 2019, the best monthly results since the start of the pandemic.

Between January and September, worldwide international tourist arrivals stood at -20% compared to 2020, a clear improvement over on the first six months of the year (-54%). Nonetheless, overall arrivals are still 76% below pre-pandemic levels with uneven performances among world regions.

In some sub regions (Southern and Mediterranean Europe, the Caribbean, North and Central America), arrivals actually rose above 2020 levels in the first nine months of 2021. Some islands in the Caribbean and South Asia, together with a few small destinations in Southern and Mediterranean Europe, saw their best performance in Q3 2021, with arrivals coming close to, or sometimes exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

This uplift in demand, says UNWTO, was driven by increased traveller confidence amid vaccination progress and the easing of entry restrictions in many destinations.

However, UNWTO cautions that despite these improvements, the pace of recovery remains uneven across global regions due to mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence. While Europe (-53%) and the Americas (-60%) enjoyed a relative improvement during Q3 in 2021, arrivals in Asia and the Pacific were down 95% compared to 2019.

Looking ahead, international tourist arrivals are expected to remain 70%-75% below 2019 levels in 2019, a similar decline as in 2020. As such, tourism’s direct gross domestic product could lose another US$2 trillion, the same as in 2020, while exports from tourism are estimated to stay at $700-$800 million, significantly below the $1.7 trillion registered in 2019.