Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Global tourism to close 2023 at 90pc of pre-Covid levels

International tourism is on track to recover almost 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, according to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

As per the latest data from UNWTO, an estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally between January and September 2023, an increase of 38 percent on the same months of 2022.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Our latest data shows that international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented crisis of Covid-19 with many destinations reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals and receipts. This is critical for destinations, businesses, and communities where the sector is a major lifeline.”

On the Middle East scenario, Pololikashvili said it continues to lead the recovery by regions in relative terms, with arrivals 20 percent above pre-pandemic levels in the nine months through September 2023.

According to him, the Middle East remains the only region in the world to surpass 2019 levels this period. “Visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, investments in new tourism-related projects and the hosting of large events, help underpin this remarkable performance,” he added.

On Europe, the world’s largest destination region, UNWTO said it had welcomed 550 million international tourists over the period, 56 percent of the global total. That represents 94 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The rebound was supported by robust intra-regional demand and strong demand from the US. The global tourism body pointed out that Africa had recovered 92 percent of pre-pandemic visitors these nine months, while the arrivals in the Americas reached 88 percent of 2019 numbers this period, as the region benefitted from strong US demand, in particular to Caribbean destinations.

Asia and the Pacific reached 62 percent of pre-pandemic levels this period due to slower reopening to international travel.

However, performance among subregions is mixed, with South Asia recovering 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels but North-East Asia only about 50 percent.

The latest findings of UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, that covers more focused data on regions, as well as sub-regions and individual destinations, include:

– World destinations welcomed 22 percent more international tourists in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the same period last year, reflecting a strong Northern Hemisphere summer season.

-International tourist arrivals hit 91 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter, reaching 92 percent in July, the best month so far since the start of pandemic.

-Overall, tourism recovered 87 percent of pre-pandemic levels in January-September 2023. That puts the sector on course to recover almost 90 percent by the end of the year.

-International tourism receipts could reach USD 1.4 billion in 2023, about 93 percent of the USD 1.5 billion earned by destinations in 2019.

Strong demand for outbound travel was reported by several large source markets this period, with many exceeding 2019 levels.

Germany and the United States spent 13 percent and 11 percent more respectively on outbound travel than in the same nine months of 2019, while Italy spent 16 percent more through August.

 The sustained recovery is also reflected in the performance of industry indicators. Drawing on data from IATA   and STR, the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker details a strong recovery in air passenger numbers and tourist accommodation occupancy levels.

Against this backdrop, international tourism is well on track to fully recover pre-pandemic levels in 2024 despite economic challenges such as high inflation and weaker global output, as well as important geopolitical tensions and conflicts.

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