Celebrating World Tourism Day 2021

The International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) joins in the celebration of the World Tourism Day with enthusiasm as tourism is a major pillar of the global economy which accounted before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic for 1 in 4 of new jobs created across the world, being 10.6% of all jobs globally (334 million), contributing to around 11% of the world’s GDP (US$9.2 trillion).

Covid-19 caused the global Travel & Tourism sector to suffer a huge loss in revenue amounting to between US$4.5 trillion and US$4.7 trillion in 2020, contributing to GDP dropping by a staggering 49.1% compared to 2019. Now with the rolling out of the vaccines and the restart of the sector and despite ongoing travel restrictions to certain destinations, it is clear that business recovery is well underway and in several countries the tourism sector is proving its resilience by bouncing back quickly despite having been hardly hit especially in island economies that are highly dependent on foreign currency revenue brought by international travellers.

Fortunately, in parallel to the restart of tourism-related activities in certain parts of the world, business trips and holiday travelling are picking up, giving a much-needed breather to the industry and we expect this feel-good factor to extend to other regions where the spreading of the pandemic has been contained.

International events have also been scheduled in the coming months – Dubai Expo 2020 1 October 2021- 31 March 2022, WTM in London on the 1-3 November 2021 and ITIC London 1-2 November in London, to highlight a few, testifying to the strong confidence of the global tourism industry for brighter days ahead.

There has been a paradigm shift in the travellers’ mind set who recognise that they will have to co-exist with the Covid-19 virus but by taking the appropriate precautions life can continue in the new normal. Tour operators are also showing a high degree of adaptability by tailoring their travel offers to the new health world order.

From my recent travel experience travelling to Tanzania and Dubai, I’m strongly convinced that the world can make it.

In this nearly post-Covid-19 era investments in the Travel and Tourism sector are growing thanks to supportive banks and governments. New projects are initiated. For instance, in Tanzania, their President is putting tourism high on the economic agenda to achieve a growth rate from 17% to 30% with forecasted yearly arrivals of 5 million visitors in the near future. Government must lay solid foundations for the revival of their country’s tourism sector, especially as it will have a positive multiplier effect on the other segments of the economy.

The vaccination campaign successfully rolled out in the UK has been a game changer but we must not only focus on that factor but also integrate the social dimensions of tourism to promote the inclusive growth of local communities as well as the issues of sustainability. Particularly with regards to upheavals brought by climate change.

Dubai for instance has already set the example of the successful reopening of its airspace and the Emirate to international visitors. We expect other countries, especially those that have properly managed the Covid-19 pandemic, to follow. The Dubai resilience needs to be commended.

Let us hope that 2021 will prove to be the turnaround year and that the future will look brighter and by 2023 we will reach again travel and tourism levels of the pre-Covid era.