January 17, 2024
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International tourism on track to fully recover from the pandemic

The World Tourism Organisation(UNWTO) regularly publishes the World Tourism Barometer to give insight into the latest data regarding tourism destinations and source markets. There is good news to share because the numbers look promising for the industry.

An estimated 975 million tourists travelled internationally during the time from January to September 2023. That marks an increase of 38% compared to 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the global tourism sector and has changed the way people travel for good. So it is especially interesting to look at numbers in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. There is some good news to share in this respect as well. International tourist arrivals reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter of 2023 - with July being the month with the most international tourist arrivals so far since the start of the pandemic.

From January to September 2023 tourism reached 87% of pre-pandemic levels. Likewise air passenger numbers and tourist accommodation occupancy levels showed a strong rise.

The Middle East region is certainly conspicuous in the above chart, as it is the only region to have already returned to pre-pandemic levels - even achieving a significant plus. This development can also be expected in the other regions if the trend remains the same. However, the Asia and Pacific region is an exception here, as it has suffered the greatest losses due to the pandemic and is still in the strong minus range in 2023 (as of September 2023).

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stated: "The latest UNWTO 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."

When it comes to tourism spending there is also positive news to share. International tourism receipts are on course to reach US 1.4 trillion in 2023, compared to USD 1.5 trillion earned in 2019. Germany and the United States spent 13% and 11% more respectively on outbound travel than during the same period in 2019.

The latest numbers on international tourism reflect the complexities of a post-pandemic world. Although the international tourism sector still faces uncertainties and challenges like high inflation, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and geopolitical events, it is on course to fully recover from the setbacks of recent years.