Even as countries slowly begin to recover from COVID-19, global tourism remains substantially below 2019 levels, though with some positive trends around domestic travel and slight improvements in China domestic, pan-European, and Russia domestic travel. International tourism has ground to a halt because of the pandemic, with travel restrictions, passenger fears, and disruption to travel modes having the largest impact. Global travel volumes are likely to come back to 2019 levels closer to 2023–2024, while domestic travel is likely to recover more quickly, potentially as soon as 2022.

Uncertainty in the tourism sector will remain significant throughout 2021. With many second lockdowns impacting travel across the globe, consumer sentiment and fear levels continue to grow. While all airlines are under pressure, some have received enough government support to ensure their survival in the post-COVID-19 environment. Companies selling into the tourism value chain need to re-segment customers and partner with them in creating demand over the coming years.

Some markets have seen somewhat lower drops in tourism, like Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. However, this does not necessarily mean these regions are safe from contraction; rather, this is largely because these markets delayed widespread travel restrictions. We expect tourism in every region globally to be significantly impacted through 2021. However, opportunity lies in domestic travel, where conditions are gradually improving and passenger fear is dissolving.

Start a free trial of FrontierView to access the full Global Tourism for 2021 report or download an executive summary today.

Looking for even more on global tourism? Watch the full conversation between Richard Leggett, CEO of FrontierView, and Martina Bozadzhieva, Head of Research.

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