According to Publituris, International tourism is recovering and is on track to reach the end of 2023 with a recovery of close to 90% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

According to UNWTO research, between January and September, around 975 million tourists traveled internationally, which represents an increase of 38% compared to the same period in 2022.

Data from the most recent World Tourism Barometer show that, in the third quarter, world destinations received 22% more international tourists in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the same months last year, which, according to the UNWTO, reflects “a strong summer season in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Also in the third quarter, international tourist arrivals reached 91% of pre-pandemic levels, even reaching 92% in July, a month that, according to the UNWTO study, was the best so far since the start of the pandemic.

“Overall, tourism recovered 87% of pre-pandemic levels between January and September 2023. This puts the sector on track to recover almost 90% by the end of the year”, indicates the UNWTO, in the statement announcing the launch of the World Tourism Barometer.

The UNWTO also estimates that international tourism revenue will reach US$1.4 billion in 2023, “around 93% of the US$1.5 billion earned by destinations in 2019”.

“The latest UNWTO data shows that international tourism has almost completely recovered from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, with many destinations reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals and revenues. This is critical for destinations, companies and communities where the sector is an important lifeline”, welcomes Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UNWTO.

Middle East, Europe and Africa lead recovery

OMT data show that the recovery of international tourism is, however, happening at different speeds, with the Middle East remaining at the forefront of recovery, given that, in this region of the globe, international tourist arrivals have slowed down by the end of September, 20% above pre-pandemic levels.

“The Middle East continues to be the only region in the world to surpass 2019 levels during this period. Visa facilitation measures, the development of new destinations, investments in new tourism-related projects and the holding of major events help to sustain this remarkable performance”, applauds the UNWTO.

In Europe, 550 million international tourists were recorded during the period under analysis, which represents 56% of the global total and 94% of pre-pandemic levels, with the UNWTO considering that this “recovery was supported by robust intra-regional demand, as well as strong demand from the United States.”

In Africa, in turn, there was a recovery of 92% of pre-pandemic visitors, while arrivals to the Americas reached 88% of 2019 numbers, mainly due to strong demand from the US market for the Caribbean.

In the Asia-Pacific region, 62% of pre-pandemic levels were reached, which the UNWTO attributes to the “slower reopening to international travel”, although an analysis of the Asia-Pacific sub-regions reveals that the performance was differentiated, with South Asia recovering 95% of pre-pandemic levels and Northeast Asia only around 50%.

Spending exceeds 2019 levels

More positive appears to have been tourism spending, with the UNWTO indicating that “strong demand for foreign travel was reported by several large outbound markets in this period, with many of them exceeding 2019 levels”.

This was the case in markets such as Germany and the United States, which spent 13% and 11% more, respectively, on outbound travel than in the same nine months of 2019, while Italy spent 16% more until August.

“In this context, international tourism is on track to fully recover pre-pandemic levels by 2024, despite economic challenges such as high inflation and weaker global production, as well as important geopolitical tensions and conflicts”, concludes the UNWTO.