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Pursuits
Year In Review

New Data Show How Far From ‘Normal’ the Tourism Industry Remains

Many of us did travel this year—we just didn’t go very far.

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Illustration: Franco Zacharzewski

If your passport is still collecting dust, you’re hardly alone. A full recovery for the tourism industry was never expected in 2021—most estimates peg a return to “normal” by 2024. But the current travel economy varies greatly depending on what region you’re looking at.

The Caribbean, for instance, is “recovering at a faster rate than any other region in the world,” shows an October study from the World Travel & Tourism Council. That’s a relief after years of rebuilding following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Travel’s contribution to global gross domestic product rose 30% in 2021, on average, from 2020. In the Caribbean, that figure was 47%, a difference of $12 billion for local economies. If that continues, the region could surpass its record-setting 2019 by next year.