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Countries where tourism is recovering fastest


As countries across the world remove travel limitations and relax their borders, the global tourism industry is on track to fully recover after two years of restrictions. With this in mind, the experts at money.co.uk were curious to find which countries are returning to their pre-covid levels of tourism the quickest? 

To do this, money.co.uk analysed each country’s tourism levels in 2019 before the pandemic, and compared this with 2021, to measure how well their tourism industry has recovered. 

We really hope you find this release useful. If you do end up using it, we would very much appreciate a link to https://www.money.co.uk/travel/tourism-recovery who commissioned the data. A link credit allows us to keep supplying you with future content that you may find useful. Thanks very much. 

Countries where tourism is recovering the quickest 

#

Country

2019 tourist numbers (million)

2020 tourist numbers (million)

2021 tourist numbers (million)

2021 volume compared to 2019 (%)

1.

Bahrain

3.8

1.9

3.6

94.7%

2.

Albania

5.9

2.5

5.3

89.8%

3.

Dominican Republic

6.4

2.4

5.0

78.1%

4.

Maldives

1.7

0.6

1.3

76.5%

5

Aruba

1.1

0.4

0.8

72.7%

6.

Mexico

45

24.3

31.9

70.9%

7.

Luxembourg

1.0

0.5

0.7

70.0%

8.

El Salvador

1.8

0.5

1.2

66.7%

9.

Iceland

2.0

0.5

1.3

65.0%

10.

Montenegro

2.5

0.4

1.6

64.0%

11.

Andorra

3.1

1.9

1.9

61.3%

12.

Croatia

17.4

5.5

10.6

60.9%

13.

Tanzania

1.5

0.6

0.9

60.0%

14.

Turkey

51.2

15.9

29.9

58.4%

15.

Bulgaria

12.6

2.7

7.2

57.1%

For a graphic and the full results of all 73 countries analysed please click here.  

Coming first in the study with an almost 95% tourist recovery rate is Bahrain. Its 2021 tourist numbers have almost recovered to their 2019 levels (3.8 million). However, its 2021 tourism revenue of 1.8 billion is only 49% of what the island country accumulated in 2019 (3.7 billion), meaning travellers are spending less when they visit. 

In second place, Albania welcomed over 5.3 million tourists in 2021, just short (89.8%) of its 2019 total. With a varied blend of mountainous and coastal regions, this south-eastern European country will hope to return to its pre-lockdown visitor peak soon.

Completing the top three is the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean nation saw 5 million visitors in 2021, which was around 78% of its total for 2019 (6.4 million). According to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, the country attracted more tourists (700,000) in December 2021, than it had in any other month on record. 

Placing tenth in the rankings is Montenegro. While the small Balkan country's 2021 tourist total of 1.6 million is only 64% of its 2019 numbers (2.5 million), its recovery from the 2020 slump of 400,000 is impressive.  

For the full study breakdown, please see here: https://www.money.co.uk/travel/tourism-recovery                                      

James Andrews, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, commented on the research: 

“After around two years of lockdowns people are again looking abroad for their next holiday. While some consumer trends have changed forever, a lot of the usual things people look for in a potential destination remain the same. At the top of this list is affordability, no matter what the location and type of holiday. There are a number of ways to keep costs down when taking a vacation, while still getting the break you need:” 

  • Shop around - Compare packages from various travel agents to just booking every step of the trip yourself, as sometimes that extra effort can equal more spending money in your pocket.
  • Analyse traveller reviews - Advice from your fellow tourists who have done it before is invaluable. Most accommodation and major attractions are rated on affordability as well as giving information on what you will experience, which should advise you if it will be worth it.
  • Be wary of tourist traps - While some are inevitable when exploring a location's major landmarks and attractions, don't be afraid to venture outside of the hustle and bustle. Finding some local gems will usually result in better prices and a more authentic experience.
  • Set yourself a daily budget - This can be difficult but planning and tracking your spending when on holiday allows you to stay in financial control. Give yourself a realistic daily allowance that will still leave you with money for emergencies, or even that new piece of clothing that caught your eye.   

Countries where tourism is struggling to recover post-pandemic 

Country:

2019 Tourist Numbers (million)

2020 Tourist Numbers (million)

2021 Tourist Numbers (million)

2021 Volume Compared To 2019 (%)

Hong Kong

23.8

1.4

0.1

0.4%

Japan

31.9

4.1

0.2

0.6%

Taiwan

11.9

1.4

0.1

0.8%

Thailand

39.9

6.7

0.4

1.0%

Vietnam

18.0

3.8

0.2

1.1%

Singapore

19.1

2.1

0.3

1.6%

Philippines

8.3

1.5

0.2

2.4%

Cambodia

6.6

1.3

0.2

3.0%

Argentina

7.4

2.1

0.3

4.1%

Chile

4.5

1.1

0.2

4.4%

Hong Kong’s tourism industry is struggling to recover the most. 24 million tourists in 2019 dropped to approximately 100,000 in 2021, 0.4% of its pre-covid popularity.

The second slowest return to normality is fellow Asian powerhouse Japan. Its 2021 tourist volume of around 200,000 is only 0.6% of its 2019 total (31.9 million).

Taiwan completes the top three with roughly 100,000 visitors in 2021, which is a large drop from its 2019 total of 11.9 million (0.8%). 

Methodology

  • Money.co.uk set out to determine which countries are closest to returning to pre-covid levels of tourism.
  • The analysis began with identifying countries that had over one million tourists in 2019. 
  • The next step was calculating how much tourism had fallen during lockdowns in these countries. To do this, money.co.uk compared figures for tourists and revenue from 2019 to 2021 from a number of popular tourism sources.
  • The volume of tourists from 2019 (pre-pandemic) was considered ‘normality’ for the sector in each country.
  • As well as arrivals data, data for money spent by tourists was also gathered where possible. This data was not available for every country.
  • The study focused on the number of arrivals as a measurement of downturn/recovery.
  • The figure from 2021 was divided by 2019, to determine how close tourism is to pre-covid levels in each country. The result of this calculation was converted to a percentage.
  • Countries with no arrival numbers for 2020/2021 were excluded from the study.
  • Australia and New Zealand were excluded as they were entirely closed to tourism in 2021
  • The countries were then ranked in order of how close they are in returning to 2019 figures.


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