HomeTravel NewsGlobal Tourism Rebounds, Expected to Reach 90% of Pre-Pandemic Levels by Year-End

Global Tourism Rebounds, Expected to Reach 90% of Pre-Pandemic Levels by Year-End

The latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) paints a promising picture for the global tourism industry, indicating a substantial rebound to nearly 90% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. According to the UNWTO’s World Tourism Barometer, approximately 975 million tourists embarked on international journeys between January and September 2023, marking a remarkable 38% increase compared to the same months in 2022.

The report highlights a robust resurgence in international tourist arrivals, with a notable +22% growth recorded in the third quarter of 2023, especially during a strong Northern Hemisphere summer season. International tourist arrivals reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter, peaking at 92% in July, making it the best month since the onset of the pandemic.

Overall, the tourism sector has demonstrated resilience, recovering 87% of pre-pandemic levels in the January-September 2023 period, setting a trajectory to achieve almost 90% recovery by the year-end. Projections suggest that international tourism receipts could reach US$1.4 billion in 2023, representing around 93% of the US$1.5 billion earned by destinations in 2019.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili expressed optimism about the comprehensive recovery, “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,” he said.

Regionally, the Middle East emerges as a leader in recovery, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 20% in the nine months through September 2023. This region stands out as the only one globally to exceed 2019 levels during this period, attributed to measures such as visa facilitation, development of new destinations, investments in tourism projects, and hosting large events.

Europe, the world’s largest destination region, welcomed 550 million international tourists, accounting for 56% of the global total. This represents an impressive 94% of pre-pandemic levels, fuelled by robust intra-regional demand and strong interest from the United States.

Africa and the Americas showcase good recovery rates, reaching 92% and 88% of 2019 numbers, respectively. Africa’s resurgence over the nine-month period is particularly noteworthy, reflecting positive trends in tourism.

While Asia and the Pacific region reached 62% of pre-pandemic levels during this period, variations exist among sub-regions. South Asia demonstrated a robust recovery at 95% of pre-pandemic levels, whereas North-East Asia lagged behind at around 50% due to slower reopening to international travel.

In terms of outbound travel spending, several major source markets reported strong demand, exceeding 2019 levels. Germany and the United States increased outbound travel spending by +13% and +11%, respectively, compared to the same nine months in 2019. Italy showcased a remarkable +16% increase through August.

The sustained recovery is further substantiated by industry indicators, with the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker highlighting positive trends in air passenger numbers and tourist accommodation occupancy levels.

Emer Roche
Emer Roche
Emer has over 10 years experience working for Irish magazines, supplements, websites and creative agencies. She’s written features for U Magazine, Image Magazine and theheyday.ie, across a range of subjects such as women’s interest, travel, culture, news and interviews. She also has a portfolio of commercial writing for creative agencies, such as RTE.ie and Originate Creative. Emer is a Dublin native with part of her heart in Ardmore, County Waterford. She lives in Dublin 7 with her husband, two kids, dog and cat.
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