By Dr.Ross Curran, Assistant Professor, School of Social Sciences
International tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 58 per cent in July to September 2021, as per UNWTO. Rise in demand was due to an increase in traveller confidence due to lifting of restrictions in many countries. Following Omicron, world is seeing many curbs and COVID-19 tests once again.
As COVID-19 continues to affect the world, the tourism industry remains steadfast in its commitment to re-cover. As one of the most affected sectors, it has seen major changes over the past two years. In 2020, a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) showed that global international arrivals dropped by 74 per cent. However, in 2021, according to the newest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 58 per cent in July to September 2021 compared to the same period of 2020.
The uplift in demand was driven by increased traveler confidence amid rapid progress on vaccinations and the easing of entry restrictions in many destinations. However, due to the onset of new COVID-19 variants, the world is again seeing some restrictions, including regular RT-PCR tests, quarantine rules, and isolation periods. Focusing on tourism as an industry that profoundly impacts global economies, growing COVID-19 concerns continue to affect its recovery.
Closer home, the success of Expo 2020 Dubai continues to showcase tourism industry's resilience as the return of tourists and local visitors are reassured by COVID-19 safety measures. The UAE's response to the pandemic has been exemplary, as it continues to launch accelerated vaccination drives while offering hassle-free PCR testing access.In the UAE, the tourism industry has proven itself as a major contributor to economic development.
As per the latest research by Statista, the sector is projected to contribute about AED 280.6 billion to the country's GDP by 2028. Although post-pandemic recovery will be long for most countries, its revival in the UAE will benefit from being supported by a diversified tourism and travel offering. Diversification of tourism offerings in the UAE has contributed to opportunities for sector growth, while also enhancing its resilience.
The UAE's efforts towards developing cultural heritage tourism attractions continue to make great strides. The archaeological and artistic sites offer visitors a chance to gaze into its and heritage. Its appeal as a diversified tourist destination will play a role in the industry's COVID-19 recovery.