TORONTO – Typically, the holidays are a time for celebration, for gathering with family and friends, and a good opportunity for travel. However, the rise in Covid cases and the new Omicron variant has prompted several countries to reinstate certain restrictions causing many families to cancel their holiday travel plans.

The tourism industry is one of the hardest-hit sectors since the start of the pandemic. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) suggests that the economic strain caused by Covid-19 will likely cost the global tourism sector nearly $2 trillion (USD) in lost revenue in 2021.

As the sector looks to recover, weary travellers longing for their next adventure are optimistic for a better 2022. In the hopeful spirit of the holiday season, improving vaccination rates around the world and booster shots well underway in various countries, restoring traveler confidence will be key in the cautious tourism recovery.

And just where that next destination will be is something to look forward to. Depending on who you ask, Italy may be on the top of the list of destinations. Some may consider it one of the most magical places to visit in Europe.

Whether it’s the beauty and influence of the architecture throughout the country, the mouth-watering delectable cuisine or the beautiful landscapes, Italy provides a feast for all the senses. With over 4,700 miles of coastline, Italy is dotted with the most spectacular beaches in the world, some of the best in the region of Puglia.

It’s no wonder that Italy ranks among the top 10 most visited countries in the world. With a population of 60.3 Million (M), the country welcomed 64.5 M international tourists in 2019 (according to One would be truly amazed by the art and culture throughout the nation including some of the world’s most iconic landmarks like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the famous Tower of Pisa.

If looking at the number of tourists visiting annually, then France is the top destination for travellers. Home to over 65 M people, international tourist arrivals topped 89.4 M in 2019. The country is known for its art and home to some of the world’s finest museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay.

Paris is considered a focal point of tourism in France. It is among the most beautiful and romantic places in the world (only if Italy was removed from the equation). Also referred to as the “City of Light”, it is a world-renowned capital of fashion, food and culture.

Another popular European destination among travellers is Spain. At about 46.7 M inhabitants, more than 83.7 M international tourists visited Spain in 2019, making it the second favourite holiday destination after France.

Barcelona is among the most visited cities in the country. Tourists flock to the city’s historic architectural marvels, enjoy the splendor of the landscape and indulge in the famous nightlife. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline and 60 islands, Spain’s spectacular beaches are a primary draw for millions of visitors looking to sunbathe and unwind.

Unfortunately, current circumstances may not be ideal for that much needed holiday vacation. However, diving into a good travel book or documentary, may be the perfect escape for a travel adventure this holiday season. Best wishes and safe travels.

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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