International tourism rebounded moderately during the second half of 2021, with international arrivals down 62 percent in both the third and fourth quarters compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to limited data, international arrivals in December were 65 percent below 2019 levels. The full impact of the Omicron variant and surge in COVID-19 cases is yet to be seen.
The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence. Europe and the Americas recorded the strongest results in 2021 compared to 2020 (+19 percent and +17 percent respectively), but still both 63 percent below pre-pandemic levels.
By subregion, the Caribbean saw the best performance (+63 percent above 2020, though 37 percent below 2019), with some destinations coming close to, or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Southern Mediterranean Europe (+57 percent) and Central America (+54 percent) also enjoyed a significant rebound but remain 54 percent and 56 percent down on 2019 levels respectively. North America (+17 percent) and Central Eastern Europe (+18 percent) also climbed above 2020 levels.
Meanwhile, Africa saw a 12 percent increase in arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020, though this is still 74 percent below 2019. In the Middle East arrivals declined 24 percent compared to 2020 and 79 percent over 2019. In Asia and the Pacific arrivals were still 65 percent below 2020 levels and 94 percent when compared to pre-pandemic values as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.