International Tourism Nears Pre-Pandemic Levels, UNWTO Reports

International tourism is making a robust comeback, with arrival numbers reaching 84% of pre-pandemic levels in the first seven months of 2023, as per the latest UNWTO data. The Middle East, Europe, and Africa are at the forefront of this global resurgence.

Between January and July 2023, a staggering 700 million tourists traveled internationally, marking a 43% increase compared to the same period in 2022. July alone witnessed 145 million international travelers, accounting for roughly 20% of the seven-month total.

The Middle East emerged as the top-performing region, with tourist arrivals surpassing 2019 levels by 20%. Europe, the globe’s most frequented destination region, achieved 91% of its pre-pandemic figures, buoyed by intra-regional demand and travelers from the US. Africa closely followed, recovering 92% of its pre-crisis visitors, while the Americas reached 87%. Asia and the Pacific, after reopening many destinations, saw a surge to 61% of pre-pandemic levels.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, emphasized the sector’s resilience, stating, “UNWTO data once again shows how tourism is recovering strongly in every part of the world.” He also highlighted the importance of adapting to challenges like extreme weather events and managing increasing tourism flows to ensure a sustainable and resilient sector.

Looking forward, the UNWTO’s Confidence Index suggests a continued recovery for the rest of 2023, albeit at a slower pace post the peak travel months of June-August. Factors like the reopening of China and other Asian markets are anticipated to further boost travel. However, challenges like inflation, rising oil prices, and increased transport and accommodation costs might influence tourist spending patterns, with a shift towards value-for-money, local travel, and shorter trips.

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