UNWTO Barometer: International Tourism Soars Back to Near Pre-Pandemic Levels | Tourismag.com
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The recent publication of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Barometer highlights a significant rebound in international tourism in the first quarter of 2024, reaching 97% of pre-pandemic levels. This marks a crucial turning point for the tourism industry, which faced severe losses during the global health crisis. This article explores key data and trends from the report, examining regional performances and future sector prospects.

A Robust Global Recovery

According to the report, 285 million tourists traveled internationally in the first three months of 2024, approximately 20% more than during the same period in 2023. This increase is attributed to sustained demand, the reopening of Asian markets, improved air connectivity, and visa facilitation.

Remarkable Regional Performances

  • Middle East: The Middle East recorded the highest relative growth, with international arrivals surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 36% in Q1 2024.
  • Europe: For the first time since the pandemic, Europe exceeded pre-pandemic levels with a 1% increase compared to Q1 2019.
  • Africa: Africa welcomed 5% more visitors compared to Q1 2019, demonstrating a faster-than-expected recovery.
  • Americas: The Americas almost reached pre-pandemic levels, with 99% of international arrivals compared to 2019.
  • Asia and the Pacific: The region recovered 82% of pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2024, a significant improvement from the 65% recorded in 2023.

Subregional Highlights

  • North Africa: With a 23% increase in international arrivals compared to pre-pandemic levels, North Africa shows the strongest performance.
  • Central America: A 15% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Caribbean and Western Europe: Both regions recorded 7% growth.

Economic Impact

Total export revenues from international tourism, including tourism receipts and passenger transport, reached USD 1.7 trillion in 2023, approximately 96% of pre-pandemic levels in real terms. Tourism direct GDP recovered to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, reaching an estimated USD 3.3 trillion, equivalent to 3% of global GDP.

Future Prospects

The UNWTO Confidence Index shows positive prospects for the May-August 2024 period. However, economic and geopolitical headwinds continue to pose significant challenges to the complete recovery and confidence in international tourism.

The return to pre-pandemic levels in the international tourism sector is an encouraging sign for the industry and the global economy. Sustained demand, the reopening of Asian markets, and improved connectivity have been key factors in this recovery. While the overall outlook is positive, it is crucial to remain vigilant to economic and geopolitical uncertainties that could affect future growth. The sector must continue to adapt and innovate to maintain this positive momentum and ensure long-term sustainable growth.

For more detailed information, please refer to the full report here.

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