International tourism shows signs of recovery

06 October 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

International tourism enjoyed signs of rebound in June and July as some destinations eased travel restrictions and the global vaccination roll-out advanced in many parts of the world.

According to the latest edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) report, an estimated 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July, down 67% from the same month in 2019.

However, these are the strongest results since April last year, the organisation said.

An estimated 34 million international arrivals were recorded in July last year, well below the 164 million recorded in 2019.

According to the UNWTO, most destinations reporting data for June and July this year saw a moderate rebound in international arrivals compared to last year.

Nevertheless, it said, this year continues to be a challenging year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80% in January to July compared to 2019.

Africa recorded a decline of 77% in tourism.

True restart on hold

Meanwhile, recent statistics indicate that accommodation establishments in Namibia recorded an average of nearly 20% room occupancy last month, nearly double the occupancy rate reached in August last year, but 30% below normal for that month.

The UNWTO said the relaxations for vaccinated travellers, coupled with progress made in the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, contributed to lifting consumer confidence and gradually restoring safe mobility in Europe and other parts of the world.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There is clearly a strong demand for international tourism, and many destinations have started welcoming visitors back safely and responsibly. However, the true restart of tourism and the benefits it brings remain on hold as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel”.

Positive trend

Furthermore, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta last week gave assurance that it is

safe to travel to Namibia.

He said the country has in place workable Covid-19 standard operating procedures for all tourism businesses and will continue to work on adaptable and flexible Covid-19 health protocols for tourism sector in collaboration with the health ministry to support its full recovery.

He said although the sector has received few arrivals and declining activities in the last two years as a result of the pandemic, a positive trend in international tourists’ arrivals is being observed since the middle of this year.

“The ministry is working in collaboration with the private sector and all developmental partners to see the full recovery of the tourism sector through aggressive marketing steps, attracting new markets and introduce relevant policy interventions.”

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