A 16-page summary of the latest UNWTO Tourism Barometer takes the form of a series of infographics and charts rather than the regular commentary with tables that has traditionally been the style of these publications. 

The reader is initially reminded just how dramatic a decline took place in 2020, with 1.1 billion fewer international tourist arrivals than in the previous year, representing a 73% decline and a $2 trillion decline in tourism’s direct contribution to global GDP. 

Based on preliminary and limited data it is estimated that in 2021 international tourist arrivals increased by 4% with spending recovering more than volume, but it is evident that the sector remains far smaller than had been the case two years earlier. 

A regional set of metrics is presented from which it can be noted that for Europe a 19% increase in international arrivals compared with 2020 was recorded last year, meaning that volumes remained 63% down on 2019 levels. 

A long-term trend chart reveals how steep the recent decline in international tourism arrivals and receipts has been, taking both volume and value down to levels not seen since the start of the century. 

Two potential scenarios for international tourist arrivals in 2022 are plotted, one seeing annual volumes 63% down on 2019 the other, more optimistic, scenario seeing volumes end the year 50% down on 2019. 

A majority of tourism experts quizzed by UNWTO in Europe say that they expect 2022 to be better than 2021 with most of the rest reckoning performance will be similar to last year.  Globally most experts now see a return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later with those in Asia Pacific the most pessimistic regarding the speed of recovery. 

A trend chart shows how the date by which volumes will return to pre-pandemic levels has gradually drifted further into the future over the past 15 months. 

Changes in consumer trends that it is argued are here to stay are said to be that people are travelling closer to home, that travellers are wanting to be more responsible, to be spending time in the open air and to stay longer in destinations. 


Download UNWTO Barometer Jan 2022