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TTC Special: Tourism: Patience and optimism versus pandemic and war

Foto: Mohamed_hassan/Pixabay.

By Frank Martin

As the troubled 2022 approaches the end of its first half, the international tourism industry is looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, with anxiety tempered by some patience mixed with relentless optimism based on statistics.

Analyzes of the World Travel and Tourism Council WTTC show that despite outbreaks of the Covid-19 pandemic so far this year and the prolonged war in Ukraine, travel and tourism on the planet will probably manage to grow in 2023 more than the World Gross Domestic Product (GNP)

This points at least in the next year forecasts toward a reopening out of the current limits and may finally makes it possible to return to the previous levels that existed before the coronavirus took over the world.

According to WTTC results in the decade from 2022 to 2032 will be good with an annual growth of 5.8% for the sector despite the fact that the GDP will lag behind with an average annual increase of 2.7%.

The report accepted by the entity and published during a conference of the so-called industrial group of Manila, with great expertise in this type of prediction, states that in the mentioned period of 10 years 126 million new jobs will be created in the industry.

As the vacation world will never forget, in 2019 tourism accounted for a tenth of global GDP and jobs.

The pandemic decimated the $9.6 trillion industry, halving its value of output and putting 62 million people out of work.

Nevertheless disaster has not stopped the optimism at least (and for now) in the forecasts. To demonstrate this, the president of the WTTC, Julia Simpson, asked in WTTC meeting in Manila  all governments to reopen borders: “The recovery is going to be so stellar that it will recover with great force.”, she said.

However, Simpson mentioned one condition: everything will depend, she said, on the reopening of China.

Until now, the giant Asian country has been under close observation regarding the pandemic because it has unhesitatingly developed a policy described as “zero COVID.”

China’s dominance as a universal tourism issuer has made that policy influence almost all corners of the world that live from tourism and any other activity because frequent Chinese closures have interrupted to some degree global trade and domestic and international travel.

Despite this, the GDP of the travel and tourism industry should reach 8.35 billion dollars in 2022 this year and 9.6 billion dollars in 2023.

This would clearly mean a return to its pre-pandemic level in tourism jobs that could reach 300 million in 2022 and 324 in 2023 compared to 333 million in 2019.

Other specialists in the sector do not stop wishing for the same but they warn that in view of the situation that still exists with the pandemic and the war in Europe, full recovery will still take time to arrive. Therefore, they recommend not only optimism, but also patience.

The Caribbean listens to such advice and remain optimistic.

In October 2021, WTTC attributed the lack of international coordination, the restrictions and the different rates of vaccination around the world for the lack of a strong reactivation of tourist activity.

The Caribbean islands, however, at that time surpassed Europe in the field of the reopen. Although the region then remained below the levels of progress he had forecast, it was faster than elsewhere.

Since then to date, restoration forecasts have fallen, but specialists insist that it continues to be favored by low contagion rates and more relaxed restrictions, both in destinations and by issuing markets.

The war in Ukraine is something else.

The conflagration is not governed by the effectiveness of vaccines such as Covid-19, but the battlefield and economic sequels.

There are few forecasts in this regard and all carry the shadow of doubt.  International Monetary Fund for example stated just a week ago that the war in Ukraine will affect Latin America and the Caribbean less in 2022.

The forecast of the organization is that “general growth in the region is expected to moderate to 2.5% during 2022-23”, a figure that represents an improvement of 0.1 percentage points compared to the January 2022 forecasts

Demure, the fund preferred to moderate its projection by noting that “the variable international situation makes forecasts even more uncertain than usual.”

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