Aussie tourism took off in December, but remians well below 2019 levels

Aussie tourism took off in December, but remians well below 2019 levels

Nearly 200,000 people arrived in Australia in December as travel restrictions lifted, marking the strongest month for travel and tourism since the beginning of the pandemic.

During the last month of 2021 197,000 people arrived in Australia and 229,000 departed, according to provisional Australian Bureau of Statistics data, as travel movement picked up with international lockdowns easing.

Traveller numbers rose after border restrictions were eased on 1 November, allowing fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family as well as fully vaccinated New Zealand and Singapore travellers to cross the border without an exemption.

Although visitor numbers were still far below those seen in 2019, travel spending intentions rose 28.1 per cent during December, according to the CommBank Household Spending Intentions Index.

The index also reported that hotels, motels and resorts, travel agents, tourist attractions, trailer parks & campgrounds and
trailer dealer categories have all seen spending increases, while airline spending remains weak.

While Aussie tourism rose again during December, the world tourism industry barely improved in 2021 compared to 2020, with all indicators not expecting a full recovery before 2024, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Rising vaccination rates and easing of travel restrictions did allow a small rebound in the second half of 2021, the UNWTO report said, though the spread of Omicron triggered another dip in both travel bookings and industry optimism.

“The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveller confidence,” the report said.

South Mediterranean Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean saw the biggest increases in tourism compared to 2020, but they were still 54 per cent, 56 per cent and 37 per cent respectively below the 2019 numbers.

Global tourism’s direct gross product rose 19 per cent in 2021 from 2020 to $1.9 trillion, the report said, as each tourist spent more and stayed longer than in 2020. But the tourism industry’s revenue still barely surpassed half its 2019 levels.

“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant are set to disrupt the recovery and affect confidence through early 2022 as some countries reintroduce travel bans and restrictions for certain markets,” the report said.

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