by Seth BUTERA August 21, 2021
Countries around the world have endured over a year of extreme uncertainty in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, economies have suffered the worst hit in history. But with the increasing availability of vaccines and prospects for a resumption of international travel, light is emerging at the end of the Pandemic tunnel.
According to the World Economic Forum, International tourist arrivals fell to levels not seen since 1990. An estimation showing that the crisis has cost the world about $4 trillion and placed over 100 million direct tourism jobs at risk. The impact is so big because of the numerous suppliers and businesses that are linked to the core sector. To put these numbers into perspective, the impact is almost equivalent to the GDP of France.
With vaccinations being rolled out in most developed economies, we would have expected the situation today to be significantly better than this time last year. Unfortunately, it is not.
So, what has happened? On the one hand, relatively slow progress in vaccination puts many tourism workers at risk, thus affecting the supply side. Tourism workers in developing economies, including destinations such as small island developing states, where tourism is a lifeline and a key driver of development, are, particularly at risk.
On the other hand, travelers’ confidence is affected by the ever-changing travel restrictions that cannot be eased or lifted right now, particularly in light of new variants of the virus emerging and in the absence of sufficient roll-out of vaccinations.
Added to that, we have the costs of tests, a lack of coordination and clarity over regulations in place at destinations, limited international cooperation, the cancellation or rescheduling of flights, and general uncertainty about the evolution of the virus. It is small wonder so many people remain wary of travelling.