Zimbabwe: Unwto Projects Rebound in Tourism

Senior Business Reporter

THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has projected a rebound in tourism activity in the second half of the year despite the decline in international arrivals by 87 percent in January this year compared to 2020, on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The deadly disease was first detected in China in December 2019 and has spread across the globe, posing adverse health and economic implications. In a latest statement, UNWTO has called for stronger co-ordination to restart tourism in all regions across the globe.

“The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global tourism has carried on into 2021, with new data showing an 87 percent fall in international tourist arrivals in January as compared to 2020,” it said.

“The outlook for the rest of the year remains cautious as the UNWTO 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,” it said.

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 a 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,” said UNWTO.

The world tourism body noted that the international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. For instance, Asia and the Pacific region, which continue to have the highest level of travel restrictions in place, recorded the largest decrease of 96 percent in international arrivals in January.

Europe and Africa both saw a decline of 85 percent in arrivals, while the Middle East recorded a drop of 84 percent. International arrivals in the Americas decreased by 77 percent in January, following somewhat better results in the last quarter of the year.

UNWTO secretary-general Mr 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.”