International tourism has recovered by 60% from pre-pandemic levels

International tourism has recovered 60% from pre-pandemic levels

According to According to the latest data from the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the number of international tourists almost tripled from January to July 2022 (+172%) compared to the same period in 2021. This means that the sector has recovered almost 60% of its pre-pandemic levels. Reason — high pent-up demand for international travel; and the easing and lifting of travel restrictions to date. As of September 19, 2022, 86 countries had no restrictions related to COVID-19.

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism continues to recover steadily, but a number of problems remain, from geopolitical to economic. This sector brings back hope and opportunity to people around the world. Now is also the time to rethink tourism, its direction and how it affects people and the planet.

An estimated 474 million tourists made international trips during this period, compared to 175 million during the same months in 2021. At the same time, in June and July 2022, 207 million international arrivals were registered combined — more than twice as many as in the same two months last year. These months account for 44% of the total number of arrivals recorded in the first seven months of 2022. Europe received 309 million tourists, which is 65% of the total.

Europe and the Middle East showed the fastest recovery in January-July 2022, when the number of arrivals reached 74% and 76% of the 2019 level, respectively. Europe welcomed nearly three times as many international tourists as in the first seven months of 2021 (+190%), driven by strong intra-regional demand and travel from the US. In July, arrivals rose to around 85% of 2019 levels. The lifting of travel restrictions to a large number of destinations also contributed to these results — As of September 19, 2022, 44 European countries had no COVID-19 related restrictions.

In January-July 2022, the number of international arrivals to the Middle East almost quadrupled compared to the same period last year (+287%). The number of arrivals exceeded the pre-pandemic level in July (+3%), supported by strong results published by Saudi Arabia (+121%) after the Hajj pilgrimage.

The Americas (+103%) and Africa ( +171%) also recorded significant growth in January-July 2022 compared to 2021, reaching 65% and 60% of the 2019 level, respectively.

In the Asia-Pacific region (+165%), Arrivals more than doubled in the first seven months of 2022, although they remained 86% below 2019 levels as some borders remained closed to non-essential travel. 

Strong numbers were also recorded in international passenger air travel: increased by 234% in January-July 2022 (45% below 2019 levels), according to IATA, and recovered by about 70% from pre-pandemic levels in July.

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