The messages by the two leaders of the World Tourism Network came after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announcement on the full-year global passenger traffic results for 2021 that showed that demand (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) fell by 58.4% compared to the full year of 2019 saying that this represented an improvement compared to 2020, when full-year RPKs were down 65.8% versus 2019.
“We are nevertheless saddened to note from the IATA statement that the Omicron travel restrictions have slowed the recovery in international demand last December. International demand had been recovering at a pace of about four percentage points per month compared to 2019 and it must be mentioned that without Omicron the expected international demand for the month of December to improve to around 56.5% below 2019 levels. Instead, volumes rose marginally to 58.4% below 2019 from -60.5% in November” said Alain St.Ange and Walter Mzembi.
On their part, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said:-“Overall travel demand strengthened in 2021. That trend continued into December despite travel restrictions in the face of Omicron. That says a lot about the strength of passenger confidence and the desire to travel. The challenge for 2022 is to reinforce that confidence by normalizing travel. While international travel remains far from normal in many parts of the world, there is momentum in the right direction. Last week, France and Switzerland announced a significant easing of measures. And yesterday the UK removed all testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. We hope others will follow their important lead, particularly in Asia where several key markets remain in virtual isolation”.
“Covid-19 will be with us for a while. As we ensure at the World Tourism Network (WTN) that we continuously monitor trends and industry performance we will continue to appeal to every tourism minister to work as one in unison so that we are all better prepared for the road ahead. As WTN we wish to state that travel is a human right and after almost two full years of hibernation it is time for the industry to work together to resume travel and tourism and for the world to unite as one in creating safe and secure travel. It’s time to show the world that travel and tourism can function again safely. Let us join forces together” said former Ministers St.Ange and Mzembi.
Alain St.Ange is the former Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine of Seychelles, and Walter Mzembi is also the former Tourism Minister of Zimbabwe before taking up the Foreign Affairs portfolio.
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