Elhamy El-Zayat, former Chairperson of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), has said that Egypt’s tourism will not recover to its pre-pandemic 2019 levels before 2024.
Talking to Daily News Egypt, El-Zayat said that this was due to the lack of trust and uncertainty people felt regarding travel. This holds in spite of the worldwide vaccination programmes against the virus, as travellers would still not have the confidence to pack their bags due to the economic consequences of the pandemic.
He also said that Egypt’s 2020 tourism revenues contracted by more than 75%, to record EGP3.5bn, a significant downturn from the EGP12.5bn recorded in 2019.
Global tourism suffered its worst year on record in 2020, with international arrivals dropping by 74% according to the latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Destinations worldwide welcomed 1 billion fewer international arrivals during the year than in 2019, due to an unprecedented fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions. This compares with the 4% decline recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis.
UNWTO said that Asia and the Pacific, which saw an 84% drop in visitor levels, was the first region to suffer the impact of the pandemic and the one with the highest level of travel restrictions. It recorded the largest decrease in arrivals over 2020, with 300 million fewer travellers coming to the region. At the same time, the Middle East and Africa both recorded a 75%
decline in visitors.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the collapse in international travel represents an estimated loss globally of $1.3trn in export revenues.
This reflects losses of more than 11 times that recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis. The crisis has put between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk, many of them in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Looking further ahead, most experts do not see a return to pre-pandemic levels happening before 2023,” the UNWTO said, “In fact, 43% of respondents point to 2023, while 41% expect a return to 2019 levels will only happen in 2024 or later.”
UNWTO’s extended scenarios for the period from 2021 to 2024 indicate that it could take 2.5 to four years for international tourism to return to 2019 levels.
The latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey shows a mixed outlook for 2021. Almost half of respondents (45%) envisaged better prospects for 2021 compared to last year, while 25% expect a similar performance, and 30% foresee a worsening of results in 2021.
The overall prospects of a rebound in 2021 seem to have worsened. A total of 50% of respondents now expect a rebound to occur only in 2022, as compared to 21% in October 2020.
The remaining half of respondents still see a potential rebound in 2021, though below the expectations shown in the October 2020 survey, where 79% expected recovery in 2021.
As and when tourism does restart, the UNWTO Panel of Experts foresee growing demand for open-air and nature-based tourism activities, with domestic tourism and ‘slow travel’ experiences gaining increasing interest.