International tourism returning to pre-pandemic levels


International tourism has reached 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the first three months of the current year, according to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

This, as the first three months of the year saw global tourist traffic doubling to last year.

Some 235 million tourists traveled internationally in January-March, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer data showed.

With these figures, international tourism reached 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the three months to March.

The Middle East posted the strongest performance as the sole region exceeding 2019 arrivals by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2023.

Europe reached 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, led by strong intra-regional demand.

Asia and the Pacific made 54 percent of its pre-virus levels, but this upward trend is set to accelerate as most destinations, particularly China, have reopened.

Stressing that in many places tourist arrivals are close to or topped 2019 levels, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “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.”

In 2022, revised data showed that over 960 million tourists traveled internationally, making 66 percent of its pre-virus level.

Revenues from international tourism hit $1 billion in 2022, up 50 percent from the prior year.

Europe enjoyed the largest revenues with nearly $550 billion in 2022 or 87 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Africa rebounded 75 percent of its pre-pandemic revenues, the Middle East 70 percent, and the Americas 68 percent. Due to prolonged border shutdowns, Asian destinations earned about 28 percent.


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