Europe and America lead the recovery of international tourism

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Europe and America lead the recovery of international tourism
Source: UNWTO
August 01, 2022

The industry continues to show signs of a strong and steady recovery from the impact of the pandemic despite growing economic and geopolitical challenges


According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism experienced a strong rebound in the first five months of 2022, with almost 250 million international arrivals recorded. This compares with 77 million arrivals from January to May 2021 and means the sector has recovered almost half (46%) of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

“The recovery of tourism has accelerated in many parts of the world, overcoming the challenges that stand in its way,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. At the same time, he also recommends caution in light of "economic headwinds and geopolitical challenges that could affect the sector in the remainder of 2022 and beyond."

Europe and the Americas lead the recovery
Europe received more than four times more international arrivals than in the first five months of 2021 (+350%), driven by strong intra-regional demand and the removal of all travel restrictions in a growing number of countries . The region posted a particularly strong performance in April (+458%), reflecting a busy Easter period. In the Americas, arrivals more than doubled (+112%). However, the strong rebound is measured against weak results in 2021 with arrivals remaining overall 36% and 40% below 2019 levels in both regions, respectively.

The recovery of tourism has accelerated in many parts of the world, overcoming the challenges that stand in its way
. The same pattern is seen in other regions. Strong growth in the Middle East (+157%) and Africa (+156%) remained 54% and 50% below 2019 levels, respectively, and Asia and the Pacific almost doubled arrivals (+94%). ), although the figures were 90% below 2019, as some borders remained closed to non-essential travel. Here, the recent easing of restrictions can be seen in the improved results for April and May.

As for the subregions, several have recovered between 70% and 80% of their pre-pandemic levels, led by the Caribbean and Central America, followed by the southern Mediterranean, western and northern Europe. Of note, some destinations exceeded 2019 levels, including the US Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, the Republic of Moldova, Albania, Honduras, and Puerto Rico.

International tourist arrivals
The increase in tourist spending outside the main source markets is consistent with the recovery observed. International tourist spending by France, Germany, Italy, and the United States is now between 70% and 85% of pre-pandemic levels, while spending by India, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar has already exceeded 2019 levels. .

In terms of international tourism receipts earned at destinations, a growing number of countries - Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Seychelles, Romania, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Bangladesh, El Salvador , Mexico, Croatia and Portugal - have fully recovered their pre-pandemic levels.

Braving growing challenges
Strong demand during the Northern Hemisphere summer season is expected to consolidate these positive results, particularly as more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions. As of July 22, 62 destinations (of which 39 in Europe) did not have COVID-19-related restrictions, and a growing number of destinations in Asia have begun easing their restrictions.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the overall reduction in international air capacity in 2022 will be limited to 20% to 25% of the seats offered by airlines compared to 2019. This resilience is also reflected in the rates of hotel occupancy. According to data from industry benchmarking firm STR, global occupancy rates increased to 66% in June 2022, from 43% in January.  

However, stronger-than-expected demand has created significant operational and labor challenges, while the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and interest rates, as well as fears of an economic slowdown continue to pose risks to the company. Recovery. The International Monetary Fund is targeting a global economic slowdown from 6.1% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022 and then 2.9% in 2023. At the same time, UNWTO continues to work closely with the World Organization for Health (WHO) to monitor the pandemic as well as emerging public health emergencies and their potential impact on travel.

Regional Scenarios for 2022
The UNWTO forward-looking scenarios published in May 2022 suggest that international arrivals will reach between 55% and 70% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The results depend on the evolution of circumstances, mostly changes to travel restrictions, ongoing inflation, including high energy prices, and general economic conditions. , the evolution of the war in Ukraine, as well as the health situation related to the pandemic. More recent challenges, such as staff shortages, severe airport congestion, and flight delays and cancellations, could also affect international tourism figures.

The scenarios by region show that Europe and the Americas recorded the best tourism results in 2022, while Asia and the Pacific are expected to lag behind due to more restrictive travel policies. International tourist arrivals in Europe could rise to 65% or 80% of 2019 levels in 2022, depending on various conditions, while in the Americas they could reach 63% to 76% of those levels.

In Africa and the Middle East, arrivals could reach 50% to 70% of pre-pandemic levels, while in Asia and the Pacific they would remain at 30% of 2019 levels at best. , due to stricter policies and restrictions.

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