Global tourism on track to make full recovery – UN
International tourism is well on its way to returning to pre-pandemic levels, with twice as many people traveling during the first quarter of 2023 than in the same period last year, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Its latest data showed that an estimated 235 million tourists traveled internationally in the first three months of this year, with numbers reaching 80% of pre-pandemic levels.
The tourism sector has shown its resilience, the UNWTO said, noting that 960 million people had traveled abroad last year, representing a recovery to 66% of pre-pandemic figures.
The Middle East saw the strongest recovery and was the only region that exceeded its 2019 arrivals (+15%). It was also the first region to recover to pre-pandemic numbers in a full quarter, according to the report. Europe reached 90% of its pre-pandemic levels, driven by strong intra-regional demand. Meanwhile, Africa and the Americas were at 88% and 85% of their 2019 levels, respectively.
Asia and the Pacific accelerated its recovery to 54% of pre-pandemic levels, the UN agency wrote, adding that the upward trend is set to accelerate now that most destinations, including China, have reopened.
“The start of the year has shown again tourism’s unique ability to bounce back. In many places, we are close to or even above pre-pandemic levels of arrivals,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“However, we must remain alert to challenges ranging from geopolitical insecurity, staffing shortages, and the potential impact of the cost-of-living crisis on tourism, and we must ensure tourism’s return delivers on its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency and as a driver of inclusive development,” he added.
The report highlighted that international tourism receipts hit the $1 trillion mark in 2022, growing 50% in real terms compared to 2021, driven by the rebound in international travel. Global visitor spending reached 64% of pre-pandemic levels, it added.
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