26 Nov 2021 By travelpulse
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Signs of a recovery in the travel industries of Africa and the Middle East are becoming clearer to see, according to several different sources, including the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker has found that while the global hotel occupancy rate is at 59 percent, the Middle East is seeing an occupancy rate of 64 percent. Hotel bookings for the Middle East are only 13 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels, while the global average is 40 percent lower
Additionally, 2021’s international seat capacity on flights to the Middle East is 56 percent lower from 2019’s levels, while capacity on flights to Africa is 48 percent lower. Both are higher than the global comparison, at -65 percent, indicating that these regions are both welcoming more international visitors than both the European and Asia & Pacific regions.
According to ForwardKeys, air ticketing data shows that Africa and the Middle East’s inbound international traveler numbers are greater (at -68 percent) than those of the global figure (at -77 percent).
The numbers of inbound international travelers are largely dominated by family members and friends visiting, especially in the North Africa region, in which they account for 46 percent of all inbound arrivals. But the Middle East is seeing a larger proportion of leisure travelers, due to large events like the 2020 Dubai Expo.
Travelers to these regions are also from countries that have larger vaccination rates, easier travel conditions and flight connections; the largest three nationalities of travelers to these regions are Saudis, Emiratis and Qataris.
Both Africa and the Middle East have been incredibly impacted by the pandemic. While the Middle East seems to be recovering faster due to access to vaccines, both regions are on the path to a recovery.
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Economic Impacts & Trends Report 2021 found that Africa lost about half of its travel and tourism GDP in 2020 along with 7.2 million jobs and put many sustainability and conservation initiatives at risk. By comparison, the Middle East lost 51 percent of its travel and tourism GDP in 2020, losing 1.2 million jobs.
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