Fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 and travel curbs are deterring tourists from flocking back to Thailand’s beaches and Turkey’s bazaars, stalling a recovery in tourism, a crucial source of foreign currency and a large employer for many emerging markets.
Global tourism suffered its worst year ever in 2020 with the sector shrinking in value by an estimated $4.5 trillion in the pandemic’s wake, according to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) figures.
The scale of recovery in 2021 still hangs in the balance.
But with one in three countries and territories worldwide closed to tourism, key sources of tourists such as Britain barring foreign travel tomost countries and fresh virus flare-ups in popular destinations such as Thailand, the prospects appear grim.
Tourism could revive in either July or September, estimates the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), but it warns that, in either scenario, arrivals would still be less than half of 2019 levels.
Emerging economies, generally more reliant on tourism than their developed peers, are most vulnerable to the disruption.