World tourism recovers
Santo Domingo, DR.
Economic events on the international scene seem to be a string of bad news. The words war, inflation, and recession are trending topics in all media, generating a collective pessimism that exacerbates the mental exhaustion that COVID left us with. But there is always something positive that can be highlighted, and one good news that the year 2022 brings us is the recovery of tourism worldwide.
According to the World Tourism Organization, in the first half of 2022, the number of tourists almost tripled what was registered at the beginning of 2021, well above what was initially expected. The Caribbean, Central America, and Southern Europe are the fastest recovering areas at the sub-regional level. This is excellent news, especially for the Caribbean, as they are the economy most dependent on the tourism industry.
Looking at the statistics of tourist arrivals in January-March 2022 and comparing it with the same period in 2019, the World Tourism Organization highlights the ten destinations registering the fastest recovery: St. Maarten, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ethiopia, San Marino, Andorra, Puerto Rico, Albania, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bulgaria and El Salvador. As can be seen, four of the top ten fastest recovering destinations are in the Caribbean.
Although the top 10 destinations of the World Tourism Organization mostly have small percentages of the global tourist flow, the same recovery is shown by the leading locations of the international sun and beach tourism. To cite some examples in different continents, Seychelles had a 10% increase in visitor arrivals when comparing May 2022 with May 2019, while the Balearic Islands have a higher number of tourist reservations this summer than those registered in the summer before the pandemic.
In the case of Cancun, in the first half of 2022, they received 10% more travelers than in the first half of 2019, explained mainly by the substantial increase in visits from U.S. tourists.
Another good news is that travelers are spending more than before, to the point that the average expenditure of the international tourist has increased from one thousand dollars in 2019 to more than one thousand four hundred dollars in 2021, and everything indicates that it will rise even more in this 2022.
The rapid recovery in tourism and the increase in travel spending is expected at the current juncture. During the pandemic, governments in developed countries passed generous tax breaks, but people spent little because they were confined to their homes. As a result, they accumulated significant savings that today, without restrictions, they are happy to spend enjoying the vacations they could not take during the most challenging months of 2020 and 2021.
The Dominican Republic has also been part of the wave of tourism recovery worldwide, with non-resident foreign arrivals during January-June 2022 that is just one hundred and eighty thousand tourists below what was recorded in January-June 2019. The positive performance of Dominican tourism has occurred despite the drop in Russian tourist arrivals due to the effect of Western sanctions.
On the other hand, the arrival of non-resident Dominicans to the country during 2022 has been impressive, to the point that in the first six months of the year, we received close to one hundred and fifty thousand more Dominicans than in the same period in 2019. Although these are not considered “international tourists,” their visit to the country represents a significant foreign exchange inflow to the Dominican economy.
Undoubtedly, the world will face complicated economic and geopolitical challenges in the future. But industries such as tourism teach us that there is always good news that helps us to maintain hope because, as the African clergyman Desmond Tutu said: “hope is the ability to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”