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Tourism recovery across the world

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on travel and tourism around the globe, but with life now returning to normal, our travel experts have delved into the data to discover which countries were hit the hardest while the world was in lockdown.
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As tourism destinations around the world begin to remove travel limitations and relax their borders, the global travel industry is working hard to recover after two years of restrictions. 

Our travel experts were curious to find which countries are returning to their pre-covid levels of tourism the quickest?

If you are considering travelling abroad be sure to compare travel insurance to find the best deal for you. 

Our research analysed each country’s tourist numbers before the pandemic (2019), and compared this with figures in 2021, to measure how well their tourism industry recovered. 

Where is tourism recovery happening the quickest?

RankCountry2019 tourist visits (million)2020 tourist visits (million)2021 tourist visits (million)2021 volume compared to 2019 (%)
1Bahrain3.81.93.694.70%
2Albania5.92.55.389.80%
3Dominican Republic6.42.4578.10%
4Maldives1.70.61.376.50%
5Aruba1.10.40.872.70%
6Mexico4524.331.970.90%
7Luxembourg10.50.770.00%
8El Salvator1.80.51.266.70%
9Iceland20.51.365.00%
10Montenegro2.50.41.664.00%
11Andorra3.11.91.961.30%
12Croatia17.45.510.660.90%
13Tanzania1.50.60.960.00%
14Turkey51.215.929.958.40%
15Bulgaria12.62.77.257.10%

With an almost 95% tourism recovery rate, Bahrain bounced back fast with its 2021 tourist numbers almost all the way back to its 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 more that 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 levels 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 rate 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.  

European countries where tourism is recovering quickest

RankCountry2019 tourist visits ( million)2020 tourist visits (million)2021 tourist visits (million)2021 Volume Compared To 2019 (%)
1Albania5.92.55.389.80%
2Luxembourg10.50.770.00%
3Iceland20.51.365.00%
4Montenegro2.50.41.664.00%
5Andorra3.11.91.961.30%
6Croatia17.45.510.660.90%
7Turkey*51.215.929.958.40%
8Bulgaria12.62.77.257.10%
9Serbia1.60.40.956.30%
10Austria22.715.112.756.00%

*Turkey is considered a transcontinental country so it was included in the European rankings

Looking at Europe alone, Albania jumps from second to first, with an almost 90% tourism recovery rate, just 600,000 tourists away from matching its pre-covid levels (5.9 million) in 2021. 

Luxembourg sits in second place after welcoming more than 700,000 tourists in 2021, 70% of its 2019 total. The landlocked central European nation lost half its usual tourist volume when the lockdowns began in 2020. 

Completing the top three is Iceland. The land of ice and fire saw 1.3 million visitors in 2021, which was exactly 65% of its total for 2019 (2 million). Regarded as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, this Nordic island nation will hope to continue to attract holidaymakers to its dramatic volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields.

Placing tenth in the European rankings is Austria. With a fascinating mixture of Alpine peaks, historic architecture and modern metropolitan areas, this country received 12.7 million tourists in 2021. However, this is still only 55.95% of its 2019 total (22.7 million). 

Europe, along with the rest of the world, is seeing some real progression when it comes to its tourism recovery in part due to government recovery plans.

What is a tourism recovery plan?

Tourism recovery plans have been implemented by various governments around the world in order to assist and accelerate the tourism sector’s recovery from COVID-19. 

In the UK, the Tourism Recovery Plan has been set out to help the sector build back better following the pandemic, with the aim to recover domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and international tourism by 2023.

With the focus on getting things back to normal, the industry is set to grow with travellers keen to get overseas for their holidays this summer.  

Save on travel costs  

With this year being the first year most restrictions are lifted, our travel experts have provided some guidance on ways to keep costs down when going on holiday.

  • 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 major attractions are rated on affordability as well as giving information on what you will experience, which should let you know 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. 

Using some of these suggestions will help keep costs down and make it easier to enjoy your holiday without the worry of over spending.

Travelling to help with global tourism recovery…

If you are looking to have a positive impact on tourism recovery and need inspiration on where to travel, check out our guides to find out everything from which airport is the best to the highest rated destinations.

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