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An uneven rollout of vaccines around the world means that “it is unlikely that tourism will bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels within a year or two,” according to a new report written by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and issued by the UN World Tourism Organization. Other models in the study pointed to recovery after 2024.

The revitalization of international tourism will depend on three factors according to the report’s authors: vaccination rate, willingness to travel, and recovery of labor markets. In the short term, the most important of the three being the both access to vaccines and the willingness to use them.

“In most developing countries, access to and distribution of vaccines is a limiting factor, and the virus continues to spread at an alarming rate in India, Brazil, and in many countries where tourism is important for people’s livelihood such as Maldives and Seychelles. On the other hand, other countries where tourism is an important sector such as Thailand, Morocco, and Barbados, appear to have done well in controlling the spread.”

Unequal Impact

The year over year fall in international arrivals between March and December of 2020 was 84 percent, followed by a drop of 88 percent in the first months of 2021 compared to 2019 numbers.

Not all drops are equal, though. Percentage-wise, North America, Western Europe, and the Caribbean were least affected by the downturn, with the greatest impact falling on developing countries.

In every scenario in the report, developing countries are hit harder than developed ones.

Reduction in Tourism in Developing Countries

Country Percentatage
Mongolia -89
China -88
Philippines -84
Thailand -83
Nepal -81
Malaysia -79
Viet Nam -79
Paraguay -79
Peru -79
Georgia -79
Tunisia -79
Armenia -78
Bahrain -78
Mauritius -78
Cambodia -76
Ecuador -75
Azerbaijan -74
Indonesia -74
Guatemala -74
Panama -74
Sri Lanka -73
Bolivia -73
Chile -73
Turkey -73
Colombia -72
Kazakhstan -72
Kenya -72
El Salvador -71
South Africa -70
Argentina -69
Qatar -69
Egypt -69
Ethiopia -69
Costa Rica -68
Jamaica -67
Honduras Dominican Republic Albania -63
Dominican Republic -63
Albania -60
Nicaragua -57
Uruguay -55
Ghana -55
India -54
Trinidad and Tobago Puerto Rico -54
Puerto Rico -53
Mexico -46
Madagascar -43
Lao People’s Democratic Republic -17

Tourism’s Broader Impact

The report also reiterates the connection between travel and other sectors, and what the absence of the former means to the latter. “The indirect effects of this decline are even more devastating, as labour and capital remain unused and the lack of demand for intermediate goods and services has a negative upstream effect into many sectors.”

Read the full report below.

Open Full Report (PDF)

Photo Credit: A man using a selfie stick and one using an iPad to take pictures at the Ayasofia Museum in Istanbul. Skift