South America’s tourism economy lost about $49.2 billion over the last two years due to the pandemic. According to research by GlobalData, international travel to South America went from 35 million tourists in 2019 to only 3.3 million in 2021. 

Related: Here Are The Black Travelers Inspiring Travel To South America

Colombia protests

The Shift-

Fortunately, 2022 is proving to be turning those numbers around as there has been an influx of international travelers to South American countries. GlobalData says the continent should return to its 2019 numbers in 2024 with a prediction of 35.5 million visitors and $32.9 billion.

“South America has seen huge shifts in visitor numbers in 2022, with the region already showing clear signs of recovery,” says Hannah Free, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData.

Free continues, “The effect has been particularly great in this region, as it was typically slower to remove travel restrictions than countries in the Middle East and Europe.”

What lies ahead-

There are still obstacles to tourism such as accessibility, affordable airline connectivity, lack of countries being marketed, and unstable political climates.

Colombia saw growth despite COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, with some of it being a result of the Disney movie Encanto. International travel to Colombia increased by 11%. Colombia has now surpassed Brazil and Argentina as the most visited South American destination in 2021.

Guyana is the only South American country to have growth in international arrivals in 2021. The country is close to the Caribbean and has beaches, nature adventure, and cruises.

International arrivals to South America are disproportionally low due to underdeveloped air transport infrastructure, as well as a lack of low-cost airline options, which undermines accessibility,” says Free.