EU COVID-19 passports, vaccines helped European tourism recovery -UN report

Widespread use of COVID-19 certificates and successful vaccine roll-outs helped tourism in the European Union recover faster from the coronavirus pandemic than elsewhere in the world in the third quarter of 2021, a U.N. report said on Monday.

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International tourist arrivals rose 58% around the world between July and September compared to the same period in 2020, the U.N. World Tourism Organisation barometer said, though this was 64% below the same, pre-pandemic period in 2019.

Europe recorded the best relative performance in this period, with international arrivals 53% down compared with the same summer season in 2019.

"The uplift in demand was driven by increased traveller confidence amid rapid progress on vaccinations and the easing of entry restrictions in many destinations," the report said.

"In Europe, the EU Digital Covid Certificate has helped facilitate free movement within the European Union, releasing large-pent up demand after many months of restricted travel."

Between January and September, total tourist arrivals around the world were still 76% below pre-pandemic levels, with uneven performances in different regions, the report said.

European arrivals were only 8% below the same period of 2020 in the first nine months of 2021, yet 69% less than in 2019.

The Americas recorded the strongest results between January-September, with arrivals up 1% compared to 2020 though still 65% below 2019 levels for the same period.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean posted the strongest results by subregion with arrivals up 55% in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same 2020 period, though still 38% below 2019.

Still, the pace of recovery in the tourism sector globally in the third quarter remained uneven, the report noted.

"This is due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence."