With the highly contagious Omicron variant in the picture, global tourism arrivals have further been affected, and will not return to the pre-pandemic levels until 2024, World Tourism Organization (WTO) said on Tuesday, 18 January.
According to the Madrid-based UN agency's World Tourism Barometer, Omicron will "disrupt the recovery" in early 2022, after a four percent growth was seen since 2020, news agency AFP reported.
Meanwhile, tourism revenue in 2020 was 72 percent lower than that in 2019.
The WTO said in a press release, "The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates, and traveller confidence."
In Europe and the Americas, foreign visitor arrivals increased by 19 percent and 17 percent in 2021, respectively, when compared to 2020.
In the Middle East, however, arrivals declined by 24 percent in 2021, while in the Asia-Pacific region, they were 65 percent below the 2020 levels, and 94 percent lower than the pre-pandemic levels, AFP reported.
The WTO has predicted a 30 to 78 percent rise in international arrivals this year in comparison to 2021, though it will still remain far below the 2019 levels.
The statement added, "The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at $1.9 trillion (1.68 trillion euros), above the $1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of $3.5 trillion."
(With inputs from AFP.)