Travellers take note! Return to 2019 levels expected only by 2023: UNWTO Confidence Index

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Updated: Nov 06, 2020 11:23 AM

According to the UNWTO Confidence Index, most experts anticipate a rebound in international tourism in 2021, in particular by the third quarter 2021.

A notable aspect driving domestic tourism in Asia includes the demand for Nature-based products, such as coastal and rural areas, has also boosted domestic tourism. (Representational image)

Wondering when you can travel abroad next? Global tourism returning to pre-pandemic 2019 levels is expected only by 2023, according to the latest UNWTO Confidence Index Survey. The survey also points out that the overall confidence in global tourism continued to hit record lows in the period May-August 2020. A silver lining, however, is that domestic tourism is driving recovery in many popular tourist destinations.

Rebound in international tourism in 2021

According to the UNWTO Confidence Index, most experts anticipate a rebound in international tourism in 2021, in particular by the third quarter 2021. However, around 20% expect it only in 2022.

HappyEasyGo shared the following view on international travel from India, “With the DGCA extending the ban on international travel due to the soaring COVID-19 cases, we believe that the first half of 2021 will not see a significant increase in tourism. On the other hand, domestic travel will see a decent hike in travelling numbers and more people opting for local or interstate travel.”

UNWTO Confidence Index: Domestic tourism driving recovery

The silver lining is that the survey pinpoints the revival of domestic tourism as a key factor driving the recovery of several destinations. In this context, the survey’s respondents from Asia and the Pacific are cited as being the most positive on domestic tourism driving recovery of popular destinations.

According to GB Srithar, Regional Director – India, Middle East & South Asia, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), “COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented impact on global tourism. In April 2020, it was estimated there will be more than 100 million job losses in the tourism industry. From this, out of US$2.7 trillion of GDP lost, more than US$1 trillion will be from Asia. The pandemic also dealt a major blow to Singapore’s tourism industry and affected Singapore’s tourism ecosystem including travel agents, hotels, MICE, integrated resorts and aviation, and more.”

However, in the US, where domestic tourism is known to capture about 85 percent of travel spending, the pandemic has severely hit the country’s domestic travel demand, thereby indicating an impact on tax revenues as well as its funding for promotion.

Demand for Nature-centric destinations in Asia

A notable aspect driving domestic tourism in Asia includes the demand for Nature-based products, such as coastal and rural areas, has also boosted domestic tourism.

” Weekend destinations picked up well post lockdown. Other destinations are also picking up since October month. Next year, we can see these destinations will not be limited to weekends or seasonality but demand will be up weekdays and off season, especially for quality accommodation segments,” HappyEasyGo told The Financial Express Online.

However, urban tourism lags behind as there is a dearth of international tourists.

GB Srithar further stated, ” A key development would be the emphasis on health, hygiene and safety. Travel will no longer be a decision driven by the aspiration to travel or attractiveness of a destination. The ability of a destination and its tourism establishments to ensure good health as well as sanitisation practices will be vital in inspiring confidence of customers and it will influence their choice to travel.”

In the UNWTO Confidence Index, clear indications point to an extremely pessimistic travel outlook from UNWTO experts from Europe about September-December 2020, whereas those from the Middle East are the least pessimistic of all regions that have been surveyed for the current year.

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