global tourism recovery trend latest unwto data highlights sectors performance in 2023
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has highlighted strong numbers in its latest report, noting that international tourism ended 2023 at 88% of pre-pandemic levels, amid an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals.
The blend of increased air connectivity, unleashing of remaining pent-up demand and a stronger recovery of Asian markets and destinations are expected to pave the way for a full recovery by 2024. The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer has provided a comprehensive overview.
Several destinations report double-digit growth in international arrivals
The Middle East, Europe, and Africa performed the strongest in 2023. The specialized UN agency noted in its report that the Middle East led recovery in relative terms as the only region to overcome pre-pandemic levels marking arrivals 22% above 2019.
Furthermore, Europe – the most visited region on the planet – reached 94% of 2019 levels, supported by intra-regional movement and travel from the US. In addition, the African continent recovered 96% of pre-pandemic levels and the Americas reached 90%.
Meanwhile, Asia and the Pacific successfully recovered 65% of pre-pandemic levels, backed by the reopening of several markets and destinations. But performance has been mixed, as South Asia has already recovered 87% of 2019 levels and North-East Asia is at roughly 55%.
Several destinations reported double-digit growth in international arrivals in 2023, compared to 2019 levels. Four sub-regions are known to have exceeded their pre-pandemic figures: Caribbean, Southern Mediterranean Europe, Central America and North Africa.
Positive outlook reflected in UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index survey
The rebound is having a “significant impact on economies, jobs, growth and opportunities for communities everywhere. These numbers also recall the critical task of progressing sustainability and inclusion in tourism development,” said UNWTO’s secretary-general.
The positive outlook is reflected in the latest UNWTO Tourism Confidence Index survey, as 67% of professionals indicate better or much better prospects for 2024, around 28% expect similar performance and just 6% expect 2024 to perform worse than last year.