The World Tourism Organization published in the May issue of the World Tourism Barometer statistics on the state of the tourism industry in the first quarter of 2021. Since the beginning of the year, the demand for international trips around the world has remained very weak and for the first three months there was a decline of 83% compared to the same period in 2020.
These lower-than-expected results in the first three months of 2021 call for a reassessment of the sector's expected recovery scenarios at the beginning of the year. According to new WTO estimates, there are two expected scenarios for 2021. The first is for some recovery in July and an increase in international arrivals of 40% compared to the extremely low levels of 2020. This would mean achieving levels that remain 63% lower than those in 2019. The second scenario considers a potential revival in September, leading to a 10% increase in arrivals compared to 2020, which will still remain 75% lower than those in 2019.
According to the latest study by the World Tourism Organization's expert group, trust in the tourism sector is slowly increasing between May and August 2021. Accelerated vaccination rates in some of the key generating markets, as well as policies to safely restart tourism and, in particular, the European Digital Covid Certificate, are raising hopes for the recovery of some markets.
Regarding the expectations for the recovery of international tourism, the results of the survey of the experts of the World Organization show the following attitudes towards Europe: 1% are those who expect this to happen in the second quarter of this year; 31% - in the third quarter and 21% - in the fourth quarter of 2021. The largest share is of those who expect international travel to recover in 2022 - 47%.
Expectations for reaching the levels of 2019 are not very optimistic. According to 46% of the experts in Europe, this will happen in 2024 or later, 40% - in 2023, 13% - 2022 and 1% - in 2021.
The situation in Sofia does not differ significantly from that in other European countries. For the first five months of 2021 the total number of overnight guests in accommodation establishments on the territory of Sofia Municipality was 168 794, or 25 810 people less compared to the same period in 2020, which is a decrease of 13, 3%.
An increase compared to 2020 was observed in the number of Bulgarian citizens registered in accommodation establishments in Sofia Municipality. For the period January-May 2021, it increased by just over 18% and amounted to 107,024.
Foreign tourists decreased by almost 41%. The USA, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and France rank in the top five countries with the largest number of overnight stays.
The situation regarding the number of overnight stays for this period is similar. Their total number decreased by nearly 12%. The overnight stays by Bulgarian citizens increased by almost 12%, and the number of overnight stays by foreigners decreased by almost 28%.
The average length of stay of guests of Sofia in the first five months of 2021 was 2 days and remained unchanged compared to the same period in 2020.
The total revenues from realized overnight stays in the period January - May 2021 amount to BGN 14,242,249.71, which is 55% less compared to the same period in 2020.