2022 to be a year of recovery for the travel industry

The global travel & tourism sector’s contribution to the global economy could reach $8.6 trillion this year
The global travel & tourism sector’s contribution to the global economy could reach $8.6 trillion this year

Governments around the world must continue focussing on their vaccine and booster rollout programmes and allow fully vaccinated travellers to move freely without long quarantine periods



by

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Sat 12 Feb 2022, 5:31 PM

Travellers can look to 2022 as the year in which they can finally put their vacation and holiday plans back on the table, as a growing number of international destinations open up their borders and effective Covid-19 vaccination programmes eliminate the need for long quarantne periods, experts said.

The latest research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed that as the global travel & tourism sector begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, its contribution to the global economy could reach $8.6 trillion this year. In 2019, the sector generated nearly $9.2 trillion to the global economy. However, in 2020, the pandemic brought the sector to an almost complete standstill, causing a massive 49.1 per cent drop - a loss of nearly $4.5 trillion. The WTTC has noted that if the recovery of the sector continues to pick up pace, then its contribution to global GDP could reach just 6.4 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels.

“Tourism has suffered a terrible pandemic, and the good news is that 2022 will be a year of recovery for the travel industry,” said Raja Mir Wasim, manager at Galadari International Travel Services (ITS). “As the borders have opened up, we have seen a growth of leisure travellers picking up for inbound as well as outbound. Travellers from Europe, UK, USA, Russia, and the CIS countries are travelling to the UAE, and expats from the UAE are also travelling to these countries. As far as Southeast Asia is concerned, Malaysia is also planning to open its borders from March 1, 2022, and other countries will also follow gradually.”

Wasim also noted that the global travel & tourism sector will continue to see a “very fast progress” in its path of recovery given the pace at which most countries are rolling out their vaccine and booster shot programmes, and if international travel restrictions are eased to increase the number of people who can visit destinations without a quarantine period.

“There will be light at the end of the tunnel, with the year 2022 certainly looking more positive in terms of traveller confidence and the recovery path,” he said. “Confidence seems to be growing among travellers, as they have started ticking off countries on their bucket lists again after such a long break.”

WTTC’s research also shows that the travel & tourism sector’s contribution to global employment could reach more than 330 million, just one per cent below pre-pandemic levels, and up 21.5 per cent on 2020, representing a massive 58 million more jobs. The global tourism body has also urged governments to continue to implement digital solutions which enable travellers to easily prove their status in a simplified and secure way, and increase global harmonisation of measures to avoid any patchwork.

“Governments must shift their risk assessment from entire countries to the individual traveller and allow the fully vaccinated to travel freely,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO. “Over the past two years, due to severe travel restrictions around the world, the global travel & tourism sector has suffered tremendous losses. 2022 is certainly looking more positive in terms of both jobs and the economy. However, there is much more work to be done if we are to bring back all the jobs lost and achieve a full economic recovery. With so much at stake, it is vital that we continue driving the recovery of our sector.”

To reach close to pre-pandemic GDP and employment levels this year, WTTC says governments around the world must continue focussing on the vaccine and booster rollout - allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely without the need for additional testing, and for others to travel with a negative test. They should also continue to implement digital solutions which enable travellers to easily prove their status in a simplified and secure way.

rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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