UNWTO Urges Governments to Cooperate as Travel to Europe Sinks 85% in 2021

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is calling for stronger coordination between countries as arrivals for tourism around the world have plummeted in the last year, according to a report published by the UNWTO.

“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 the 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,” the report reads.

The large decrease in international travel is largely due to governments’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis, leading to border closures, quarantines, and mandatory testing.

Even if a country’s borders have remained open, there are so many barriers to enter, especially in Europe, that travel to/from a Member State has been largely unattractive for most travelers.

According to the report, 2020 saw a drop of 69% of travelers to the continent and 2021 saw a drop of 85% of travelers to the continent after a 4% increase in 2019.

Globally, there was been a drop of 73% of travelers in 2020 and a drop of 87% of travelers in 2021 following a 4% increase of travel in 2019, according to the report. 

The UNWTO is projecting that the first quarter of 2021 will see a drop of 85% in all international travel, representing 260 million international arrivals worldwide when compared to 2019 numbers.

The report outlines two possible outcomes for recovery in the second half of 2021, given that governments finally start allowing people from third countries to enter:

The first scenario is a possible rebound of travel in July, which could see an increase of 66% compared to 2020 numbers.

The second scenario is a possible rebound in September, which could see an increase of 22% compared to 2020 numbers.

Amidst all of this, the UNWTO is urging governments worldwide to reconsider their isolated responses and coordinate better with each other under the context that there are millions of peoples’ livelihoods and businesses worldwide that now depend on governments to work together instead of against each other.

“The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021. Many millions of livelihoods and businesses are depending on it,” the report reads.

These isolated responses have had a particularly negative impact on travelers’ perceptions of traveling to the European Union and Schengen Area, which have been largely un-unified, confusing, and inconsistent.

The UNWTO is the United Nation’s specialized agency that is tasked and entrusted with promoting responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism worldwide.

The UNWTO was founded on 1 November 1975 and is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

To read the full UNWTO report, click this link.

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